Sex sells, especially to teenagers. A study published in Pediatrics shows that teenagers exposed to media having high sexual content are more than twice as likely to have sex by age 16 than those exposed to less. Researchers surveyed more than 1,000 black and white students 12 to 14 years of age. They calculated each teen’s “sexual media diet” (SMD) based on survey responses and measurements of sexual content in television, movies, music and magazines in which the teens were frequently exposed. The teens were interviewed 2 years later. The results showed that teens with the highest SMD at the first survey were 2.2 times more likely to have engaged in sexual intercourse than those with lower SMDs. Teens of both races whose parents discouraged them from engaging in sexual intercourse were less likely to have had sex by age 16 than those who perceived less parental disapproval.
Fortunately, as demonstrated by this study, parents still do have some influence over their children.
Terry Pfau DO, HMD