Effects Of The Media On Teen Sexuality

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Effects of the Media on Teen Sexuality

When adolescents are trying to find out who they are and where they belong, they turn to television (Fisher & Grenier, 23-38). This is a serious time for the shaping of adolescent's morals and values. This would be an ideal time for children to be informed about safe sex, sexual predators and S.T.I.s , however the average child spends approximately twenty eight hours a week watching television, which is twice as much time as they spend in school ("Facts about media violence and the effect on the American family," 1998). Unfortunately more often than not adolescents shape their lives after characters they can relate to on prime-time television (Fisher & Grenier, 23-38). When sixty percent of popular television shows depict sex and/or violence and the characters committing acts such as unsafe sex, sex with multiple partners and depictions of violence on women it leads adolescents to having their real-life decisions influenced to a certain extent and their feelings towards certain issues desensitized by what is done in the mainstream media (Fisher & Grenier, 23-38). Sex and violence in the media increase risk-taking in teenagers.

Adolescents have an unlimited access to all media through television, internet, movies as well as their favourite magazines. Fifty-four percent of children in the U.S.A. have a television set in their bedroom, children spend more time learning about life through media than in any other manner ("Facts about media violence and the effect on the American family," 1998). When it comes time to learn about sex in school, too often the "human" issues are passed over because the teacher may feel uncomfortable or find the topic objectional making sex education the redundant experience of learning about what sexual parts are made up of (Steele, 1999). Adolescents should be taught in school the consequences of not being careful and taking precautions when it comes to being sexually active, they should not be learning from fictional characters. Adolescents who identify closely with romantic television characters believe that birth control diminishes romance (Chapin, 49-59).

Chapin (2000) brings to our attention that these adolescents associate unprotected sex with spontaneity, naturalness, pleasure and privacy. While safe sex is associated with planning, artificial, caution and work (Chapin, 49-59). As Chapin reported, "At the end of 1999, there were over 25,000 cases of HIV infected among Americans between the ages of 20 and 24, and an additional 3,500 cases among those between 13 and 19. People under the age of 25 accounts for half of the HIV infections in the U.S." (p. 1). The adolescents were knowledgeable of AIDS and STDs, yet they did not take appropriate precautions. Less than ten percent of sexually active adolescents used condoms consistently (Chapin, 49-59).

Steele (1999) recalls, "One out of six teens in North Carolina who took part in the 1994 National Youth Risk Behaviour Survey said they had lost their virginity by age 13 (pp. 25-30). Nearly three quarters of the 2,439 students had sex by the twelfth grade, half of which did ...
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