With technology today, it’s not uncommon for parents to worry about media influence on teens. There are so many shows today depicting sexual interactions among fairly young teens (Pretty Little Liars, for example) that are specifically made to target adolescents. But what evidence has been shown that proves parents need to be worrying about media influence on teens? According to a new study and extensive review by multiple departments from various esteemed universities, there’s not a need to worry. Psych Central recently covered the details of the study.
Media influence on teens not as strong as parental influence
According to the researchers, early sexual behavior in teens is due to parenting tactics and government policies, not media exposure. Government data has actually suggested that teens are taking a longer time to engage in sexual activity and teen pregnancy is at a historic low–even though teens are much more exposed to sexualized media today.
Christopher Ferguson states, “Evidence for an association between media and sexual behavior is minimal…That is to say, when information from parents or schools are lacking, media may become the only source of information on sexuality.”
This reveals that only when a parent or school system isn’t involved in educating a teen about the morals surrounding sexual behavior, does media influence on teens lead to early promiscuity. This calls for an increase in sex-education from not only parents, but from schools as well.
The media’s influence on teens shouldn’t be used as a scapegoat by schools and parents—it doesn’t solve the problem, and in fact increases the likelihood of poor decisions from teens. While the media may influence attitudes about sexual behavior, the analysis shows that it doesn’t significantly lead to actual actions.
Parents and schools hold the power
While talking about sex can be extremely uncomfortable, parents and schools have a large part in shaping how a student ends up acting. While media influence on teens may be stronger in areas of body image, self-esteem, and language, when it comes to sexual behavior, parents and schools hold the power. Especially for at-risk youth, parents and schools need to reach out and educate students about the dangers and risks associated with early sexual behavior.