Teens who watch sexy TV, have sex | PostIndependent.com

Teens who watch sexy TV, have sex

Are we there yet?Charla Belinski

So heres a shocker: teens who watch a lot of sex on TV tend to have more sex. And according to new research by the Rand Corporation, more teens are getting pregnant because of it. In fact, during a three-year period, teens who watched larger amounts of sexually-charged TV shows were twice as likely to become pregnant or to get a girl pregnant compared with those with lower levels of exposure. Think Hannah Montana versus Sex and the City.This may be a case of the chicken and the egg its hard to know which comes first, the watching or the doing. Even the researchers offered a caveat about the findings, saying it’s possible teens with advanced sexual attitudes are more likely to seek out more TV shows with sexual content. Sure, anythings possible. They could be shopping at Abercrombie & Fitch, for example. But I digress.Ill never forget the year one of my kids came home and said a young classmate wanted to be a stripper when she grew up. The same girl, at recess, had said she wanted to do one of her fellow classmates. I think its safe to say this young girl wasnt watching The Suite Life of Zach & Cody anymore. Its easy to shrug and say she didnt know what she was talking about; she didnt really mean it that way. Perhaps. But isnt it abdicating a bit of parental responsibility to allow our kids exposure to the adult world of sex, violence, and other grown-up themes, and then brush it off because its over their heads? At what point does it get in their heads?Admittedly, broadcast television does a slick job of making hook-ups look easy and uncomplicated; and theres certainly no shortage of viewing time. From reruns of Friends and Sex and the City to ABCs Grays Anatomy which airs during the so-called family hour (puh-lease), to the racier fare on HBO, kids of all ages can be exposed to as much s-e-x as they want.One of the recommendations of the researchers who authored the study is parents sit down and discuss with their kids the topics covered in the shows they watch. And while you might find yourself blushing at the content, at least youll have a chance to impart some real wisdom to your teen rather than Hollywood hogwash.If you dont share with your kids how you feel about pre-marital sex or about friends with benefits, theyll happily soak up what television has to offer. If you dont share how you feel about 15- and 16-year old girls having sex, your kids wrongly assume from the cover of Us magazine and Jamie Lynn Spears that its no big deal. And while I like the idea of sitting down and talking with your kids about what they watch on TV, I have another, more radical one: parents could simply turn off the TV. My friend Kelly doesnt even own a TV and she also happens to be a voracious reader; her kids watch her reading on a daily basis. They see her read everything from the New York Times, to novels, to non-fiction books about the Supreme Court Justices. Know what her kids do in their spare time? You guessed it read. Coincidence? I think not. This is not to say her kids will never have sex (sorry, Kelly). But it does say there is a distinct connection between what we model and what kids do. Its not by chance children of parents who are very nutrition-minded, for example, have kids who are more conscious of what they put in their mouths. Kids whose parents are religious tend to be more religiously observant. Kids whose families are physically active tend to be active themselves. Predictably, television execs are defending their great programming, saying there is no connection between shows like Sex and the City and sex in the high school. But the association, researchers say, is clear. Just as the advertisers of Coca-Cola hope theres an association which leads more people to drink Coke. Its time to ask ourselves exactly what it is these shows are selling. And then for parents to decide what it is youll be buying. Then again, maybe youre ready to be a grandparent. Charla Belinski writes about parenting and family life, and works with parents at YouthZone. She has been known to watch a racy show or two after the kids go to bed. Contact Charla at belinskis@comcast.net.


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