"The Awful Truth About Television: Sexual content encourages teens to experiment"


Sex and violence look good on TV

The content of most programming is dangerous for many children. It is often not healthy for adults either. Sex and violence seem to be the natural programming for the media of TV. Scenes of gore or lust splash on the screen in vivid color. The abstract concepts of love, joy, and friendship simply do not fit as well into a box. It is not surprising then that the trend in television content has been towards more sex and violence.

Sexual content doubled in seven years

In fact, sexual content has doubled in the last seven years. "Scenes featuring kissing, fondling, and talk about sex have nearly doubled on television since 1998, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study . Among the top 20 watched shows by teens -- which include ''Desperate Housewives," ''The O.C.," and ''One Tree Hill" -- 70 percent include sex talk and depictions of sexual behavior, researchers found." Worse, just 14 percent of shows with sexual content acknowledged risks or included safe-sex messages.

Sexual content has effects on teens

According to several RAND studies, these messages have an effect. First, teens who watch a lot of television with sexual content are more likely to have sexual intercourse for the first time in the following year. Surprisingly, according to one study, programs in which characters talk about sex affect teens just as strongly as programs that graphically depict sexual activity.

Content reinforces sexual stereotypes

Another unhealthy element of television programming is that it often reinforces sexual and racial stereotypes. This can negatively impact the self-esteem of those teens who do not measure up to the unrealistic TV show teens. It is healthier for teens to actively engage the world to boost their self-esteem.

Monitor and reduce TV for children and teenagers

These studies suggest that it is vital to monitor the television programs that your children and teens watch. If kids have a TV in their bedroom, that is very difficult. Get TV's out of kids' bedrooms!

Kids and teenagers are naturally curious. Encourage their curiousity with alternate activities. Turn off the TV completely and encourage them to read an interesting book. Get them outdoors to play and explore nature. They will be happier and healthier, if you do.

About 'The Awful Truth About Television' Series:

What happens when the average American spends 4 hours 32 minutes every day watching television? Trash Your TV's 'The Awful Truth About Television' Series explores the multifaceted problems with TV in eleven hard-hitting articles. Read the full series and you will never look at your television set the same way again.

Katherine Westphal is the founder of Trash Your TV! and the author of a revolutionary e-book system, The TV-FREE System. Get in control of your TV watching and create the life you want, whether it is to create the body, the mind, the business, the family, or the community of your dreams.

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