Do current shows make teen pregnancy appealing?


Some TV programs have sexual content that may have an effect on teenagers' behavior. A study by the RAND Corp. (a nonpartisan, nonprofit research organization) shows that teenage pregnancies were more likely in teens that were exposed to a high level of sexual content on TV, including sitcoms, reality shows and dramas. Teens were interviewed over a three-year period, and their attitude toward sex, and their knowledge and habits, including the TV shows they watched, were evaluated. The media is not the only factor, but the fact that teens spend a lot of time watching television may have an impact on teens' health, and may encourage risk-related behavior. Some popular sitcoms that teens watch may contain sexual dialogue and sexual behavior that influence teens in their social and personal behavior. Over a three-year period, a high level of exposure was found to be linked to an increase in teen pregnancies.

There is no conclusive evidence to support the idea that limiting exposure to sexual content on TV would actually decrease teen pregnancies, and only specific shows were included in the study so that it may not be representative of all teens' viewing habits. The reasons for teenage pregnancy rates are varied and complex, and are influenced by many factors. TV may have an impact, but it cannot be held solely responsible. Shows with sexual content may portray issues in an unreliable and unbalanced way that is not realistic. Teens need to have reliable information and sex education and these are important issues that have to be addressed by parents as their teens go through adolescence. Open discussions with teens about sex and sexual behavior will have more of an effect than limiting exposure to sexual content, which is everywhere and not just on TV.