Recently a groundbreaking piece of research has found that rates of pregnancy are much higher among teenagers who watch many TV shows with sexual dialogue and behavior than among those teens who have tamer viewing tastes. The recent study is the first to link those viewing habits and practice with teen pregnancy. Teenagers who watched and enjoyed the raciest shows were twice as about to become pregnant over the next three years as those teenagers who watched very few such programs.
On the other hand, another previous study by a number of the same scientists already discovered that watching a lot of sex on TV can influence teenagers to have sex at earlier ages. TV Shows that highlight only the positive aspects of sexual behavior and practice without the risks can easily lead teens to have unprotected sex. Anita Chandra, lead author and behavioral scientist, a Rand Corp., said, “before they’re ready to make responsible and informed decisions.”
The new study was released on Monday in the November issue of Pediatrics. It considered 2,003 teens, 12-to 17 years’ old girls and boys all over the country questioned by phone about their TV viewing habits in the year of 2001. The last part in the year of 2004, teen people were re-interviewed twice to ask about pregnancy. It was surprising that among girls, 58 got pregnant during the follow-up period, whereas among boys, 33 admitted they had gotten a girl pregnant. In the interviewed, participants were asked how often they enjoyed and watched any of over 20 TV shows popular among teens at the time or which were found to have a lot of sexual content. The shows included “That ’70s Show”, “Sex and the City,” and “Friends.”
Researcher found that pregnancies were twice as common among those teens who admitted they watched these types of shows regularly, compared with other teens who said that they hardly ever watched those. In this study, there were more pregnancies among the oldest teenagers interviewed, though the pregnancy rate remained consistent across every age group among those teens who watched the racy shows or programs. In this connection, Chandra said TV-watching was strongly connected with teen pregnancy even when other factors were considered, including grades, family structure and parents’ education level.
However, it is true that the research did not acceptably address some other issues, self-esteem, family values and income, said Elizabeth Schroeder, executive director of Answer, a teen sex education program based at Rutgers University. He also said, “The media does have an impact, but we don’t know the full extent of it because there are so many other factors.” Though Bill Albert, chief program officer at the nonprofit National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, praised the research and said it “catches up with common sense.” He added, “Media helps shape the social script for teenagers. Most parents know that. This is just good research to confirm that.” Moreover he noted that the downward trend occurred as TV shows were becoming more sexualized, confirming that “it’s not the only influence.”
On the other hand, still teen pregnancies were on a 15-year decline in USA until a 3% go up in 2006, according to the latest statistics though many experts consider that could be only a statistical blip.
Here the president of the National Institute on Media and the Family, well-known psychologist David Walsh, cited statistics suggesting only around 19% of US teens say they can able to talk frankly with a trusted adult person about sex. He remarked, as with many schools not offering sex education that leaves the media to serve as a sex educator. He said, “For a kid who no one’s talking to about sex, and then he watches sitcoms on TV where sex is presented as this is what the cool people do.” As a result, the outcome is obvious. Walsh said the message to parents is to converse to their children about sex long before kids are teens. Parents should be watching what their kids watch and helping filter messages sex-filled programs are sending. In a nutshell, we should always observe our teens what they watch in TV and should not give permit to watch any racy show so that they can influence get teen pregnancy.