Sex in the Media

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Joshua Kendall

Professor Baker

English 1101

16 March 2013

Effects of Sex in the Media on Adolescents

Everywhere we go the media is always around us. Through television, radio, internet, movies, video games; we cannot escape media’s influence. The media is full of sexual images and themes that can be unhealthy for a growing mind to view. The prevalence of overtly sexual content in the media influences teenagers to be promiscuous.

The abundance of sexual material in the media is influencing teenagers to make unhealthy choices about sex. Because sexual themes can be found in all forms of media, it is difficult for teenagers not to be subjected to it. Richard Jackson and Christopher Barlett state, “[aAdolescents] . . . learn about sex from . . . media outlets such as movies, television, magazines, song lyrics, videos and the internet” (1). Allyssa Harris adds, “[tThe] media are among the primary educators for adolescents about sexuality and sexual behavior” (235). When teenagers are exposed to sexual themes in popular media, it alters their way of thinking in regards to sex. David Myers declares, “[tT]he more sexual content adolescents view, the more likely they are to perceive their peers as sexually active, to develop sexually permissive attitudes, and to experience early intercourse” (361). Frequent exposure to sexual media will affect how teenagers develop their self-identity (Harris 236). When teenagers turn on a media format to be entertained, they are being exposed to sexually charged content that will have harmful consequences on their views on sex.

The large amount of sexual situations shown on television programs influences teenagers to be promiscuous. Most of the popular prime-time television shows are full of sexual acts and behaviors. Myers states that if you watch prime-time television for one hour you will see “15 sexual acts, words and innuendos” (361). Harris adds, “[tThat] up to 70% of all television shows have sexual content, 68% talk about sex and 35% include sexual behaviors (235).” When teenagers see the lighthearted way in which television programs show sex, they will embrace those attitudes. Jackson and Barlett claim, “wWatching numerous sitcoms . . . where characters are routinely sexually active . . . with little concern of consequences may cultivate acceptance of such [actions]” (9). Harris thinks, “[aA]dolescents who watched television [programs] with more sexual content . . . were more likely to initiate . . . sexual behaviors” (236). When the growing teenage mind is bombarded with sexual behaviors on popular television programs, it will lead them to believe that such promiscuous actions are commonplace and accepted.

When teenagers watch television programs that do not show the negative effects that sex can have on a person, it will make them believe that such effects are a rarity. Sex on television programs will influence teens to have sex, but without the proper sex education they may not take the necessary precautions. Beth Azar reports, “[tTeens] who watched the highest levels of sexual content on television were twice as likely to become pregnant . . .” (1837). Most of the time, sex on prime-time television does not mention any risk with the behavior (Jackson and Barlett 4). Another harmful effect television has on teenagers is it’s glamorization of teenage pregnancy. At times the media has become captivated with famous pregnant teenagers like Bristol Palin and Jamie Lynn Spears (Azar 1837). Azar adds, “[fF]or the past several years, adolescent pregnancy [has] received much press with top billing on ABC network drama “Secret life of the American Teenager” and the hit MTV reality shows “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom”” (1837). The way in which television displays sex without consequences influences teenagers to make bad choices that will affect them for the rest of their lives.

Sexually charged lyrics in popular music will influence...
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