Running Header: The Media’s Effect on Teen Sexuality
The Media’s Effect on Teen Sexuality
National American University
This paper deals with the effects of the media on teen sexuality and what results from it. The sexual content contained in the media uncovers the effects on adolescent’s attitude about sex, their beliefs, and behaviors. There are so many types of media that are geared towards adolescents; it makes it hard for teen’s to ignore. Teens are at a stage in their life where they are discovering who they are and are beginning to have new feelings which are usually centered on their bodies. These feelings make them especially vulnerable to outside influences. They want to be accepted and often go to great lengths to fit in. One of the definitions of sexuality is an organism’s preparedness for engaging in sexual activity. An adolescent is not prepared for the onset of puberty not to mention sexual activity. This is the reason it is so important for parents to talk to their kids about the changes that are going on and provide a solid foundation from which their children can grow from. Once that foundation is set then the schools can further educate the kids on what steps can be taken in terms of safe sex and give them options.
The Media’s Effect on Teen Sexuality
Premature sexuality is a widespread problem in the United States. According to Ray Eldon Hiebert, (n.d.) “The United States has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies, teenage birth, and teenage abortion of any industrialized nation” (p. 1). The average teenager deals with the media all day long, they wake up listening to the radio and talk with friends about what happened on the previous days episode of their favorite program. Once they get home from school, they are flipping channels, surfing the internet or reading the latest issue of their favorite magazine. This brings to mind a quote I read by Larry D. Rosen (2007) “Kids are making media a full time job with overtime” (p. 5). Everywhere you look you see teenagers with cell phones with internet access, MP3 players, I-Pods or some sort of device that connects them to media in one way or the other. Statistical information and studies have shown that the media in all forms may assist teens in participating in sexual activities before they are mature enough to handle it. Although the sexual content in the media can affect anyone, adolescents are the most open to it. This exposure can occur during the developmental stage when their roles in terms of gender, attitudes and behavior regarding sex are being shaped. (Pediatrics, 1995, 298-300) At this stage in their development, teens are most at risk due to the fact that the way they perceive facts will not allow them to properly analyze the messages presented in the media. There are three stages of development: early, middle and late adolescence. Since during the late adolescent stage physiological development is generally complete, only the two early stages will be discussed. During the early stage, 12-14 years, teenagers are very self-conscious about the changes in their bodies and often compare themselves against what they feel is the ideal body image. This is especially prevalent in girls who are obsessed with being thin and are constantly searching for ways to lose weight. This self-consciousness carries over to the middle stage of development. But now teens are preoccupied with sex and feel like they are invincible which often results in engaging in high risk behavior. This lack of development causes them to not think about their actions or the outcome. (Allen et al, 2011) Age or stage of development is also influential in how a teen interprets sexual content. Younger youths are less likely to be influenced than their older counterparts. For example, mature young women are more curious about sexual content in the media as a way of “learning the rules, rituals and...