Influence of Internet on Family Communication About Sexuality

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The Influence of the Internet in Family Communication about Sexuality Christo Jose
Central New Mexico Community College

The mass media are an increasingly accessible way for people to learn about and see sexual behavior. Out of all the mass media today, adolescents use the television and the internet more than any other media resource. The use of internet has risen exponentially in the last few years and within a year, it is estimated that 90% of all families with children will have access to the internet. The word sex is the most popular search term used on the Internet today. The Internet may have both positive and negative effects on sexual health. Internet bombards the minds of the teens these days with images of sex almost every single day. Aside from the daily dose of sexuality and eroticism provided by the mainstream media, 50% of all adolescents have said that they have encountered unwanted pornographic material on the internet. Many studies have been conducted to determine the extent of communication between adolescents and parents about sexuality. It has often been shown that students are more likely to turn to friends and the media before discussing this topic with their parents. The availability of a large and wide scale of information on the internet and the freedom from the embarrassment of confrontation has compelled many adolescents in this path. Because of this, fewer families discuss sex and abstinence in their families. One study has found that the patterns of sexuality communication in a family are also dependent on the gender of the parents as well as the child. Preadolescents who have communicated with their parents about sexuality have been shown to go to their parents for more advice when they are older. The internet does play a very important role in children communicating with their parents about sexuality. The internet provides a wide array of information that can lead or mislead children based on where they look for information. Some studies show that the use of internet in families have reduced the family communication and has led to less and less time spent with the family. This leads to a strain in communication between the children and the parents and this lack of communication makes it uneasy on the children to go to their parents when in need of information about their sexuality. The mainstream mass media (movies, music, T.V., magazines and the internet) provide frequent and sometimes explicit images of sexuality. Available studies show that the media do have an impact because the media keep sexual behavior on public and personal agendas, media portrayals reinforce a relatively consistent set of sexual and relationship norms, and the media rarely depict sexually responsible models. In the Unites States, children spent about a third of their time a day exposed to some form of mass media. Patterns of media use vary greatly based on age, gender, race/ethnicity and socioeconomic level. Thus, one can never be sure that a message sent out through any form of media is interpreted as the same by the various people exposed to them. The internet being a bottomless pit of information can never be fully trusted. Though the internet provides more explicit material on sex than any other media, most of these are along the lines of pornography and do more harm than good. The internet, being a product of normal people, isn’t always accurate and can provide information that are biased and may not always prove to be useful. The personal opinions and tips expressed in many websites aren’t usually based on any scientific or medical facts and can thus mislead children looking for information. In a study conducted in 1993, adolescents (aged 15-17) put their friends first, then parents and then the media for sources to acquire information about sexuality. Today, the media has risen in rank and leads as the main source of information for adolescents. Among the various forms of media,...
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