Monday, October 26, 2009

Sex and the Media

Late last year, CNN published a piece on a RAND study linking teen pregnancy to watching sex on television. First, read the piece here. After reading i want you to address a few questions.
1. Do you think the results are correct? Does watching more sex on tv lead to teen pregnancy?
2. What other factors are also leading to teen pregnancy? In the piece one person says that too many things other than parenting are always blamed for teen pregnancy. Do you agree? Could good parenting counter the effects of watching too much sex on TV.
3. Could there be a third variable going on here? Teen pregnancy is on the rise. Sex on TV is on the rise. The number of hours of TV watched is on the rise? What's going on?
4. The term Media Literacy is used. This means teaching people how to critically interpret and understand the media with which they engage. (Basically you're taking a class in media literacy right now). Is there a place for this in the classroom? And how can we teach media literacy in the classroom when education budgets are being slashed and we are barely getting basic skills like reading and writing taught in the classroom?

22 comments:

Victoria said...

I agree with this article on so many points. For one, it makes perfect sense that if, like the article said, our media is saturated with sex, so how could it not influence the people watching it, especially those that are impressionable such as teens. This level of sexual content will have less of an effect, however, if they do have good moral teaching from their parents. I agree, not enough responsibility is put upon the parents. It IS the parents responsibility to raise their children, not to cater to them and give them whatever they want or avoid sex talks because it's uncomfortable for them (and the parents). Teaching a child right and wrong and the consequences of their actions is the responsibility of the parent, no one else...not the school system, not the day care, not their peers - the parents. Yes, they will be influenced by those things, but if they have a good base knowledge already from their loving parents, then they will be armed with that knowledge and be ready to handle situations.
Unfortunately, homes these days are riddled with broken families - single mothers, single fathers, divorced parents which I would suspect helps contribute to these statistics.
From my perspective, sex on television hasn't really increased between husbands and wives on shows and movies; it's usually out of wedlock in some form or fashion. What kind of message does this send? That it is okay to do that. Not only is it okay, but using contraception and protection is never shown; therefore, it is okay not to use that, right? This is the message sent to our young people, and again, without a solid moral standing and knowledge from the parent or guardian, then this portrayed behavior gets acted out upon. Consequently, we have teen pregnancy. I commend shows like MTV's (I think) 16 and Pregnant. This program shows teens that messed up and are having to deal with the consequences - from start to finish. Now that's productive reality tv - educating teens about how that few minutes of pleasure can turn a bright future upside down. I feel that we should have programs that do this in the schools as well. Shame on parents for not waking up and realizing that their children are being faced with hormone raged peers every day, and that they WILL be faced with having sex at some point. Shame on parents for not wanting their children "exposed" to this at school through these programs. It's a reality, whether we like it or not, so we need to be teaching students the consequences early on. Not abstinence programs... they don't work. I am a young person, so I've been through it in recent years... I should know.

~Victoria L. Carr

Wesley said...

This is not surprising to me at all. The fact is we have given way to our selfish selves and saturated the television with sex and sexual themes. The main question of the articles is whether or not the saturation is the cause for the rise in teen pregnacny. The fact is that it helps contribute as do ohter things. Lets face the facts, when you are exposed to something continually then you tend to think about that and act on that. If you listen to music with negative lyrics all of the time then you become negative because you position yourself to saturate your mind with negativity. So sex on the screen promotes thoughts about sex. Then when other factors are added it makes the individual much more susceptible to doing something he should not. It amazes me that whats ok for older adults is somehting we worry about for youths. This sex saturation should the study be done also ocntributes no doubt to adultry as well. Why? same reason the television puts thoughts in ones head that dont need to be there.
The fact is that there are many variables that contribute. Parents that raise their kids right help the odds and that is their responsibility. However, even in doing that when it comes to it the decision is the youths. The parents need to be the role model and set an example by saying no we arent going to watch this. That repositions the entire family not to experience the problems that the show presents. Ultimatley the only hope to change these situations is to turn to Jesus. Its not like we can do good all by ourselves unless we decide to make a decision to lead a life of surrendering to Christ that changes our perception, changes our, decisions, changes our direction, and changes our lives.

KamrynsMom said...

I too agree with the article in some ways, but in others I would have to say that I slightly disagree. Yes, I do think that the results are correct because the Rand Corporation study that was performed included an ample amount of participants, who were of a variety of teen ages, and lastly the period of time the study was conducted, which was about three years in length. This information leads us to the opinion that the information obtained from the study was not so biased to affect the opinion of every study participant. This left very little, if any, room for biases which is a good thing. In some ways watching sex on tv can lead to teen pregnancies because of the fact that many children are extremely influential. If a teen has not matured to the level where they can battle peer pressure and being influenced, there can be room from sexual content displayed on tv to interfere with the child's processing abilities. By this, I mean that the teen may register sexual content viewed on tv in a way him or her should not be viewing it. Everyone has their own perspective of how they see things; and how they may in turn interpret these things.

Other factors that I think lead to teen pregnancy is unfit parenting. If many parents would pay more attention to their children and their children's needs then I think we would see less teen pregnancy. Some teens go out and find love and comfort in all of the wrong places, but if they were getting the love and attention, that they are so desperately seeking in the wrong places, from inside their home there would be no reason to look for comfort elsewhere. Again being influential and easily swayed comes into play, if we as parents teach our children then we may rest assured that we have done our part, and nothing less. The Bible says that a parent should train up a child in the way they should go, and if he should ever be lead astray they will find their way back. We as parents can only do our part, but if we do our part as we should then there will be no worry. In the article, it states that teen pregnancy rates were lower in two parent households this is clearly evidence; the love of two parents are enough to raise a child, but if you are a single parent you must make up the extra love needed and try even harder because you are raising your child alone; basically to do the best you can, we may not realize it now, but one day our children will realize and also understand what we go through as parents, and they will be proud to be a son or daughter of a mother or father of or both of the like. After this paragraph, I am sure you can incur that I do agree that parenting are many times not focused on when determining who is to blame, and while good parenting may not counter the effects; great parenting may, at the very least reduce the prevalence of teenage pregnancies.

KamrynsMom said...

On the other hand, I do think there is a third variable of some type; the information about the increase in teen pregnancy, sex on tv, and the number of hours tv is being watched is clearly evidence that supports the claim determined by the study that sexual content on tv is linked with an increase in teen pregnancy. When we have such information, we know where part of the problem is; and we just have to find a way to combat such problems; we must reduce one of these three because if we don't we will continue to see an increase in the prevalence of teenage pregnancies.

Yes, there is a place in the classroom for media literacy; if the media is endorsing sexuality I think they should also endorse programs that are educational to sexuality. I feel this way because if the media is going to endorse such information; which in turn helps in creating a problem: teen pregnancy; they should at least attempt to prevent such problems. I think this should somehow identify with the Television Act of 1990; that required three hours of educational programming on broadcast stations. I think in turn that the media should be required to incorporate at least three hours of educational sex programming on stations which broadcast a certain number of hours of sexual content. These stations should be responsible for the funding of such programs to substitute for education budget cuts.

~~Nateisha Marchbanks~~

Glenda said...

I agree with some of the arguments in the article. I do think that the media influences our children no matter what is done to instruct them. There is just too many avenues easy for them to travel. I am on the fence about whether the sex on television can lead to pregnancy. While I think watching TV would certainly cause them to think more about sex, I'm not so sure you can blame pregnancy on it. If children were educated to understand the severe consequences from a teen pregnancy, they may still engage in sex, but would insist on protection.
I think there are also other factors leading to teen pregnancy. Being bored is the first thing that comes to mind. When children have a lot of time on their hands, they are going to try and fill it with something. I believe children should be much more involved in extracurricular activities like sports, music, dance, etc. I also think that it is a terrible shame that today's world so openly expresses sex. Growing up, we were all embarassed to ask our parents about sex and tried very hard to avoid a meeting. I think parents should insist and follow through with a good basis of knowledge for the chilren, even if it is an uncomfortable thing for them. The trend for sex and teen pregnancy is certainly rising and I think all of the above help contribute.
I completely think that media literacy should be taught in schools as a requirement for everyone. I think it could be done without a budget hit. Adding it to the current curriculum may cause controversy but we teach our kids everything else today, why not how to understand the world arounj them? I think the school adminstrators and teachers are too worried about law suites to 'make' the children learn. Again dating myself, I didn't dare speak back to any teacher much less disrupt the class. There was ample punishment for bad behavior and today it simply is not there. There needs to be a change in the process of teaching our children.
Glenda G.

Alexis K. Ellis said...

The results of the RAND study I think are correct because teenagers at ages 12 to 17 are very impressionable, and they tend to want to emulate the lives of their favorite stars on tv. I think that having sex as a teen or getting pregnant is influenced by television, and other factors such as hormones, peer pressure from friends, and pressure from romantic relationships. The rise of teen pregnancy is due to I think everyone addressing it as being normal, and not addressing what happens in a teen's life to make them want to have sex. Teens are going to have sex, I think no matter if there is media literacy in schools. I do not think there is much awareness about sexually transmitted diseases among teens because many think it will not happen to them. Media literacy does help in teaching kids that television shows, and sexually-charged shows are geared toward making money, and selling you a product. I think that when teens are at those sensitive ages, again, they want a more adult lifestyle, and many engage in sex based on what they see on tv; so the study is correct in my opinion.

-Alexis K. Ellis

Dianna Majors said...

I do not agree with most of the points of this study. I understand and agree with the comment made about extended exposure leading to one thinking more about a subjejct than someone who not as exposed to it. However, I do not see where there is a direct correlation between exposure to something and acting on its idea. This same argument has been made in juvenile cases involving teen violence and movies or video games. However, as with teen pregnany, I ask how these studies of media influence account for all the millions watching the same shows and playing the same video games and not becoming violent or getting pregnant? They cannot. This is why I think that there are many outside factors that play into issue of teen pregnancy. I agree with the woman from the article who felt good parenting could counter the effects of exposure to sexual content. In fact, I think the parenting of a child is the greatest variable in whether or not a teen initiates intercourse at a young age. Millions of teens watch the same shows each day, yet only a small portion of them become sexually active and become pregant or impregnante someone. Without having done any kind of research, I would say that their enviroment, which mostly includes their families and home life, plays the biggest role in which of all these teens becomes pregnant. As to the question of Media Literacy education, I think learning how to interpret and understand the media is something that does not have to be taught alone, but could be incorporated in the classroom in most subjects. Many subjects taught in the classroom are also somehow exposed in the media, and teachers could use these media examples to explain to students how to interpret their meaning and how that relates to other real life situations. Yet honestly, I still believe that the number one person(s) responsible for teaching media literacy is the parent or guardian of the child. This idea is the kind of common sense knowledge that should be passed on to kids by the ones in charge of their well-being.

Dianna Majors

Sherry Osborn said...

I believe that if teenagers are exposed to television shows that have sexual content in them, the shows can have an impact on their behavior. Watching the sexual shows will probably cause the teenagers to be more sexual, which leads to them having sex, which then can lead to pregnancy.
It is the parents’ responsibility to monitor what their children watch. For example, my children are not allowed to watch rated R movies, and they are not allowed to watch some PG 13 movies; though it depends on the content of the movie.
Good parenting can help mold your children, but it is not going to prevent teen pregnancy. However, it can help instill good moral and ethical values in them. You can be the best parents in the world, and you can do everything to the best of your ability to raise your kids, and they can still turn out to be below your standards.
Sex is on the rise because today’s society is saturated with sex everywhere. You see it all over television. You see it all out in public by the way people dress, especially women and/or young girls. Our society is extremely perverse! Tonight in church our preacher was just talking about how disgusting that our society has become. Even the really young girls are barely dressed anymore. So many things that were considered taboo decades ago is now accepted as appropriate behavior.
I forgot to mention that SEX SELLS! This is why the media is saturated with it.

Sherry Osborn

Sherry Osborn said...

I have to agree with everyones' posts.

Sherry Osborn

burnham_tj said...

I do not agree with the article. You can control what your kids watch, who the talk to on the phone, and when they go out. Once they leave the house you have to trust they will make the right choices. This is not always the case. What's on TV does not increase nor does it decrease the urges and hormones in a teenage body. These kids need to understand how difficult it is raising a baby, especially as a teenager.

David Camp said...

I do think the results of the study are correct; however, I don’t think that teens watching sex on television is the only variable on teen pregnancy. I agree with others that posted about peer pressure and parents not talking to their kids. There is also the fact that teen years are a strange time and some teens just want to grow up faster than they should. During this time teens want to try several new things alcohol, maybe drugs and both of these probably also contribute to pregnancy. I am not sure what all scenes they are including in the study but I would have to hope that parents would use a little common sense and not watch this type of material with their children. I also agree with Alexis in the mind set of many teens and young adults in that ‘it can’t happen to me attitude’, which leads to reckless behavior and just plain not thinking about potential consequences.

Media Literacy classes may be a good idea; I don’t think it is going to make that big of a difference in teen pregnancy. Budget for the class doesn’t have to be that much. If the schools don’t have the money for a special class they could probably alter a lesson plan in one of the other classes that is already taught to include lessons on media literacy topics. I think the biggest contribution society can make on this is for parents to talk more to their children.

David Camp

Jemmye said...

I totally disagree with this article. I don’t think sex on television leads to teen pregnancy, I think not providing teens with correct ways to preventing pregnancy leads to teen pregnancy. Teenagers are going to have sex whether they see it on television or not, seeing it on tv just makes it more acceptable for teenagers.
I think that the number one cause of teen pregnancy is not providing teenagers with the way to prevent it. Teens are going to have sex regardless if adults tell them no, or regardless of what they see on tv or hear in songs. I think that parents who talk to their child and provide them with ways to prevent pregnancy are the best way to keep teen pregnancy down.
I agree that teenagers see sex on tv and think it is acceptable or the thing to do but sex on tv is not the reason behind teen pregnancy. Once again, not providing kids with ways to prevent pregnancy is the cause of the rise. Not talking to kids about the consequences of unsafe sex is the problem.
I think media literacy is something should discussed in certan high school classes, such as Marriage and Family. However, I reinstate that prevention is what shoudl be taught. It is the best way to prevent teen pregnancy.

sterry said...

I feel divided on the results being correct. In some instance I do believe they are correct but in others I do not. I feel that watching more sex on television can lead to sexual curiosity or exploration among teens but I feel that a lack of parent involvement is what leads to the teen pregnancy. It’s true that parents cannot be around their children 24 hours a day, so they may get exposure to that type of material, but it is up to the parent to talk with their children about what they are seeing on television and how it doesn’t apply to real life. Of course, other factors can contribute to teen sex such as peer pressure or drug use but even a conversation with your child can stop that or at least make them think twice before doing anything like that. A child needs support from their parent and the best way to provide that is to talk with them about how they feel about sex or answer any questions they have while at the same time, letting them know the consequences that come with having sex.
I do believe that there is third variable going on. A home that does not practice using any parental control on their internet and television use is open to have these problems occur. The bad part is that even if some parents do restrict their children from certain things on line or television, some of them can just go to a friend’s house and watch it. Which is why I say it is so important to talk with your children about sex and other prominent issues so that when they do go out on their own they won’t be easily influenced by the next “friend” who wants to show them a good time or something that can make them feel good. This is why I do feel that there is a place for media literacy in the classroom. In most schools, budgets are being cut but I feel that there can be ways of incorporating this into school. Most after school programs are free and I think that if it offered as an optional program that kids can sign up for, then it make work better from there. Of course, you would have to spark there interest to come. If it’s run by parents most can help purchase pizza and drinks then they can also say it’s a movie night and play movies that show the consequences of teen sex but in a not so obvious manner. So, it’s definitely possible if people want to take the initiative because it’s just a part of being creative when it comes to educating kids.

blueeye2131 said...

I kind of agree but kind of disagree with what the results were. I’m not sure that because there is more sex on TV leads to teen pregnancy. Yes I think some kids will want to try what they see on TV and that may lead to pregnancy. Some teenagers getting pregnant just happen because they try sex to be like their friends.
I think that parents should watch and see what their kids are watching on TV. I go and see what my son is watch on TV all the time. I also see what he is doing on the computer. I do think that parents can counter so of the effects of watching too much sex on TV. The parents should talk to their kids about sex. They should answer questions about sex when their kids ask. I think that too many parts are not talking to their kids about sex. I think if the parents talk to their kids about sex will help some. The parents need to tell about some of the bad things that can happen from having sex. I also think that there should be a sex education program in schools. I’m not talking about abstinence because that program is not working. The program should talk about teen pregnancy and some of the STDS those kids could get. The program should also talk about protection for boys and girls. I do not see why we don’t have a program like that yet. When there is so much sex on TV and kids are watching it.
I do think that media literacy should be taught in schools. I don’t know how they would fit it in, but do think schools should find a way to do it.
mary thomas

Alana_abk48 said...

I tend to agree with the article. I believe the age you become sexually active correlates with the age you are exposed to sexual images including those found in books or viewed on screen/tv.

However, I also feel that parents play a huge role in what a teen does with this exposure, how she/he handles the knowledge once they have it. Today, with both parents working and employers demanding so much more of a worker's time, parents are using the television to entertain and babysit. I find myself turning on the tv for my daughter when I get home from work so I can cook supper, do a little homework and maybe a load of laundry.

When I was growing up, I got into my grandmother's Harlequin romance novels. Talk about a sex education! Not all that realistic at that, but I learned a lot. It doesn't have to be exposure to television. Any media that puts the information in the hands of impressionable teens who have hormones like crazy CAN lead to more teen pregnancy.

Why? Because sex is fun, and teens like fun. Why else? Because teens don't always make the right decisions. Teens who know about sex don't always think ahead to birth control and protection from STDs.

We, as parents, have a responsibility to teach our kids what to do with the knowledge they get from media and also how to filter the exposure to media. In the end, it's the responsibility of the parent and the teen.

Travis_Page said...

I agree with the RAND study. I do think that the prevalence of sexual content on television has led to an increase in teen pregnancy. Teens are lulled into a belief that the lives and stories that they see on television are reality. They try to copy the actions of their favorite characters on their favorite shows. Just simple things such as fashion are one example of this. Whatever the stars are wearing on the new season of the favorite shows, it is safe to bet that soon teenagers all over the nation will be wearing it also. The same goes for actions. If they see their favorite characters having sex on screen, they may be more likely to participate in it themselves.

Another major factor that can lead to the increase of teen pregnancies is poor parenting. I mean, where are these parents at while their children are having sex? More family time should be spent with children. Also, parents should try to preach negative side effects of pre-marital sex to teens that isn't taught in televions shows.

I do think there is room for Media Literacy to be taught in the classroom. I don't buy into the idea that budgets absolutely have to be cut nationwide for education. I mean take a look around. Football teams alone bring in hundreds of millions of dollars a year to universities across the nation. Just an example here at State, we just built the second largest jumbo-tron on the nation, but yet we have to cut back on money spent on education? I think if we can afford a multi-million dollar tv, we can also afford to teach necessary classes that may help increase knowledge and decrease teen pregnancy.

Travis Page

gina said...

I definately agree wtih the article. I do understand that the television show itself does not make these teenagers have sex, but it does put the idea in their brains more so than it already is. The more you watch something the more you think about it and there is a lot of sexual content on television these days to watch and think about.

Other factors that I feel like lead to teen pregnancy is peer pressure. When all of the other kids at school are having sex and talking about how cool it is, it is only natural for a teen to think that they should too. As for the parenting issue, I do think that in some ways it can be the parents fault. If they see that their children are showing signs of having sex then I think that they should talk to them about it. It is always good to have the talk with your children I think just to let them hear a negative side about it. I also think that parents should monitor what their children watch on tv. There are a lot of shows that come on television late at night that parents might not know about and they are the bad ones.

As for the number of hours tv is watched, the number of teen pregnancies going up, and sex on tv being on the rise, I do think that they all have something to do with eachother. The peer pressure now days doesnt help anything either. It is a different time now, teen sex is not frowned upon near as much as it used to be and this makes teens think that it is acceptable. So many bright teens are losing their youth because of one night of sex.

Lastly, I do think that media literacy should be taught in the classrooms. Teens hear about everything outside and inside of school anyway, so why not put a positive spin on it.

gina said...

Sorry I forgot to put my name on the above post.

- Gina Sharp

Michael said...

Sexual content is not the ultimate reason why teen pregnancies exist. But it is like saying that a Big Mac is not the reason people get fat. If someone ate a Big Mac everyday from from the age of 12 to death, I believe there is a good chance that person will be overweight. In the same way, absorbing so much sexual content can only lead to a greater chance of sexual activity among minors. A mentor of mine once told me, "You starve what you want to kill, and you feed what you want to grow." Essentially, if you want your lustful nature to grow, feed it with sexually explicit material from movies, television, music, etc. It just makes sense.

Not to mention the lack of parenting, I believe that so many other parts of our society from music to movies to government are all responsible for this disturbing trend. I believe that good parenting would trump a lot of these negative aspects; however, if somebody eats healthy all the time except when they sneak do-nuts before he or she goes to bed, the positive is negated.

Our society is just so television/media oriented that it is hard to know how to confront this issue because it has only been present for about 20-30 years.

Media literacy is important because there is so much interaction with media at such a young age. I believe it should be something that is taught at the elementary level to introduce the idea and at the college level to go more in-depth. I'm not really sure how to go about doing so. It should be a priority. Maybe it could be taught in a computer application class. Either way, this issue should be a priority.

Michael Jared Koon

Sherry Osborn said...

Michael...I absolutely love that saying You starve what you want to kill and you feed what you want to grow.
Makes so much sense!

Sherry Osborn

Mark said...

The idea that more sex on TV contributes to more sex in teens makes sense. However, is this just a statistical falicy? Is the real reason for more teen sex a parenting issue or society issue. I think nthe truth is that all things ideas are influencing teen sex. Low self esteem, the desire to be popular the importance that society puts on all these things and the lack of parenting. TV reflects societies values. There is a lot of sex on TV because that is what people want to see. If they didn't it would not be profitable. So it comes down to the chicken and the egg. How do we change societal pressures? How do we get parents sto be more involved with what there kids watch and do on a day to day basis.
We are bombarded daily with ads and shows all trying to tell us how to dress what to drive and what to spend our money on. How do we as parents, friends and society infouence the younger members to ignore this onslought and trust their own feeligns.
Would a class on media help? Maybe, but until the pressures of having being popular and thin, cool we will continue to have these issues.

Mark Stephenson

jdg158 said...

The article written made many valid points. Teen pregnancy is on the rise in the world. One must also take into consideration that our population on earth has never been so large and is growing by millions every year. Sexual content in the media is rampant. Shows continously show sexual acts and portray them in a way that makes teens want to try things. This is what gets many in trouble. With the correct supervision by parents this could be curbed somewhat. Many teens although grow up in broken homes where they do not have much of a parental influence. Either way teen pregnancy is here to stay and the media continues to fuel the fire.