Skip to comments.Rand Study Finds Adolescents Who Watch a Lot of TV With Sexual Content Have Sex Sooner
Posted on 09/22/2004 5:00:05 AM PDT by Aquinasfan
Adolescents who watch large amounts of television containing sexual content are twice as likely to begin engaging in sexual intercourse in the following year as their peers who watch little such TV, according to a RAND Corporation study issued today.
In addition, the study found that youths who watch large amounts of TV with sexual content are more likely to initiate sexual activities other than intercourse, such as making out and oral sex. These adolescents behaved sexually like youths who were 9 to 17 months older, but watched only average amounts of TV with sexual content, according to the study published in the September electronic edition of the journal Pediatrics.
This is the strongest evidence yet that the sexual content of television programs encourages adolescents to initiate sexual intercourse and other sexual activities, said Rebecca Collins, a RAND psychologist who headed the study. The impact of television viewing is so large that even a moderate shift in the sexual content of adolescent TV watching could have a substantial effect on their sexual behavior.
Television habits predicted whether adolescents went to second or third base, as well as whether they had sex for the first time, Collins said. The 12-year-olds who watched a lot of television with sexual content behaved like the 14- or 15-years-olds who watched the least amount of sexual television. The advancement in sexual behavior we saw among kids who watched a lot of sexual television was striking.
Researchers from RAND Health found that television shows that included only talk about sex had just as much impact on adolescent behavior as shows that depicted sexual behavior.
We found little difference whether a TV show presents people talking about whether they have sex or portrays them having sex, Collins said. Both affect adolescents perceptions of what is normal sexual behavior and propels their own sexual behavior.
On a positive note, the study found that one group African American youth that watched more depictions of sexual risks or safety measures was less likely to begin engaging in sexual intercourse in the subsequent year.
Studies show that about two-thirds of television entertainment programs contain sexual content, ranging from jokes and innuendo to intercourse and other behaviors. Two earlier studies have suggested a link between adolescents viewing of television and their sexual behavior, but those earlier efforts all had significant shortcomings, according to researchers.
With funding from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, RAND researchers surveyed 1,792 adolescents aged 12 to 17 from across the nation, asking them about their television viewing habits and sexual behavior. The participants were followed up with a similar survey a year later.
Information about television habits was combined with the results of a scientific analysis of television sexual content to determine the frequency and type of sexual content the adolescents were exposed to during their TV viewing.
Researchers found that adolescents who watched the most television with sexual content were twice as likely to initiate sexual intercourse over the next year as adolescents who watched the least amount of TV with sexual content.
The RAND study identified other factors that increased the likelihood that adolescents would initiate sexual intercourse, including: being older, having older friends, getting lower grades, engaging in rule-breaking such as skipping class, and sensation-seeking.
Adolescents were less likely to initiate sexual intercourse if their parents monitored their activities, if their parents had more education, if they lived with both parents, if their parents did not approve of them having sexual relations, if they were religious, and if they were in good mental health. Adolescents with these characteristics also were less likely to see sex on television, but television viewing was related to sexual behavior even after these differences were taken into account.
The RAND researchers recommend that parents watch television with their children and talk about any sexual content that appears even the jokes.
Talking about television can give parents a chance to express their own views about sex, and viewing shows with their kids will also help parents identify any programs they want to designate as off-limits, Collins said.
Studies show many adolescents become sexually active during their teen-age years, with 46 percent of U.S. high school students reporting they have had sexual intercourse. But most sexually active teens also say they wish they had waited longer to have sex, suggesting that sex is occurring before young people are prepared for its consequences, according to researchers.
Other authors of the study are RAND researchers Marc N. Elliott, Sandra H. Berry, David E. Kanouse, Sarah B. Hunter and Angela Miu, along with Dale Kunkel of the University of Arizona.
RAND Health is the nations largest independent health policy research organization, with a broad research portfolio that focuses on medical quality, health care costs and delivery of health care, among other topics.
Another shocking finding:
Adolescents were less likely to initiate sexual intercourse if their parents monitored their activities, if their parents had more education, if they lived with both parents, if their parents did not approve of them having sexual relations, if they were religious, and if they were in good mental health.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirableif anything is excellent or praiseworthythink about such things.
Don't forget High School health and Safe Sex class.
Shocking... just shocking.
This study is so bigoted its unbelievable! Promoting the idea that reduced sexual exposure reduces teen sex. (Yeah I bet a million bucks some liberal will say that)
Stuff we conservatives have been screaming about since the sixties. This study will get no airtime because it doesn't advance liberal philosphy. In other words, its full of facts.
Thanks. I wanted to mention that.
The primary purpose of so-called "Sex education" is the normalization of adolescent sexual activity.
Yup. It came out two weeks ago.
< crickets chirping >
Our tax dollars at work, with the Government spending millions to discover that which parents, grandparents, teachers, and preachers have been saying fince the Nation was founded. Typical.....
Garbage in...garbage out.
BTW, this little adventure cost the taxpayers nearly $2 million dollars.....
At least they "discovered" something worth publicizing.
Who woulda thunk it. HEAVY SARCASM!!
Let's think about Planned Parenthood. They'll give you protection and then make arrangements for an abortion.
Shocking, SHOCKING, I tell you!
I am now going to conduct a study to see what happens if I put my hands under a running faucet...They are WET!! It's shocking!
Check it out at www.skyangel.com.
This will come as a shock to the porn fans here at FR --who haven't shown up yet for some reason. ;-)
Comment1: Replace the word "Sex" with "Violence" and you have a front page story in MSM.
Comment2: The sexual situations shown on television are very often of unhealthy relationships in which people objectify each other. Health and Sex ed classes should be informative biology and anatomy lessons and no more. Parents need to be responsible for teaching children both through word and deed about how and when to express love and affection.
However, knowledge of how not to contract a disease can and needs to be communicated -in a manner that does encourage promiscuity. The health of a population is indeed the governments' business. If citizens are not educated in school about this topic when will they be? (If you say "by their parents", then wait 2 generations and now no one has been educated).
It is appropriate to question how health/sex ed. is being taught, but not whether. It is a public health issue which, in every positive historical circumstance has always trumped moral sensitivites.
"Blow up your TV,"
They didn't waste taxpayer dollars to learn this, did they?
Though I guess actually documenting what common sense tells you has some value.
I'd recommend placing upper and lower bounds on the age. Parents could then select an age within this range.
The sky is blue.
I went to grade school in the 80s and high school in the early 90s. If I remember correctly 5th grade is when girls got a talk or a movie or whatever. It was about menstrating because that was when or right before they started.
Our male teacher then told the boys some very basic things about how it worked for us, but just the facts, no embellishment.
After that, it waited until 9th grade. Which was intellectually an appropriate time, but physically perhaps too late for some.
It seems to me that your suggestion is right on in that Health should be a requirement that needed to be taken at an earliest (perhaps 6th grade) and latest (perhaps 9th grade) with a recommendation (perhaps 7th grade) for most. This would allow parents to postpone it for less mature children if they wanted, but also maintain a standard so only those who cared would have to decide.
See - we solved a national problem. Now if someone would just listen to us. . .
We got the same in the late 70's-early 80's.
I think I was in 6th or 7th grade; which would make it, ahhhh.... 78 or thereabouts.
And it was the same thing. The teacher gave, basically, a truncated human biology course. This is what happens to girls, this is what happens to guys. Insert knob A into hole A and progeny results.
Seems to me that right there is part of the problem. From what I've read, the 'sex-ed' they're teaching focuses almost no attention on the consequences. Whereas, back in the day, it was ALL consequences.
"If you do this, a baby results. You can take precautions, but nothing is 100%."
I mean, that was the lecture we got. And I'll be honest, it stuck with me, at least thru high school.
Apparently, though, the varsity quarterback and the head cheerleader missed that part of the lecture... but that's another story...
I would be more apt to blame MTV and sleasy "reality" shows where sex partners are auctioned off like cattle. This is presented to children as acceptable behavior. At least most kids know porn is "naughty" and they shouldn't be looking at it, unlike the soft porn of "Sex in the City" that gets showered with mainstream awards. Don't get me wrong, porn will screw kids up but I think the root causes are broadcast TV and cable.
Good point. I was thinking more of the adults who view porn and see nothing wrong with it.
"And thank God I'm only watching the game, controlling it" --One Night in Bangkok/Murray Head