Monday, April 03, 2006

Can sex-filled TV shows and movies draw teens into promiscuity? Apparently so, according to a new study by University of North Carolina researchers. Note: the photo is from MTV's "Degrassi: The Next Generation." The study, reported on in Yahoo! News today, found that adolescents with the highest exposure to media (TV, movies, music and magazines) with high sexual content were 2.2 times more likely to have had intercourse at ages 14-16 than similar youngsters who had much less exposure. As the news story noted:
At the same time parents tend not to talk about sex with their children in a timely and comprehensive way, leaving a vacuum in which the media may become a powerful sex educator, providing 'frequent and compelling portraits of sex as fun and risk free.'"
I think most parents know these facts intuitively, yet many don't talk with their kids about sex, nor do they put strict limits on what their kids see. Here are a few tips. First, limit the number of TVs. We only have one TV and it's in the living room, so my wife and I are always aware of what's on it. Second, find a casual way to talk about sex with your kids. For example, watch nature shows on PBS. On Sunday, my younger son and I watched an excellent program on a PBS' Nature that followed a troop of baboons living near the Zambesi River. The film had four or five shots of males mounting females. (Baboon coitus takes less than 60 seconds). My younger guy asked what was going on and I explained in a matter-of-fact tone. He was much more interested in the shots of alpha males fighting (they bite and scratch and claw each other viciously). Please don't let the media educate your children about sex. Instead, educate them about the media. Explain how the TV networks operate, discuss why there are so many commercials on Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network. They are trying to sell you things you don't need.


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