A study from the usually serious RAND concludes that slick and successful TV programming that portrays teen sex as cool, fun and consequence free can influence teenagers’ decisions about sex.
In findings that covered 718 teenagers, there were 91 pregnancies. The top 10th of adolescents who watched the most sexy programming were at double the risk of becoming pregnant or causing a pregnancy compared to the 10th who watched the fewest such programs, according to the study published in the journal Pediatrics.
Is anybody really surprised that media consumption influences behaviour? The multi-billion dollar advertising industry is built entirely on the link between what people read, watch and listen to, and what they buy, do and think. Government restrictions on broadcasting content aren’t the solution (although watch for someone to advocate just that). Parents and pressure groups have been fairly successful in getting graphic violence out of prime time TV. This is laudable. But why not pay the same attention to other causes of suffering and social breakdown? Far more innocents are harmed when kids are taught that it’s fine for them to have sex than are harmed by gun violence, for instance.
On a more encouraging note, buried in the second half of the story is this tidbit: “Living in a two-parent family reduced the chances of a teen getting pregnant or causing a pregnancy.” Again, this won’t be news to most of us, but it bears repeating. And it’s good that pediatricians are getting involved – perhaps if we can frame teen sex, pregnancy and STDs as a matter of health, rather than a matter of sexual freedom, we can begin to mitigate some of the suffering that is so well documented by Maggie Gallagher, Kay Hymowitz, Theodore Dalrymple, and the other invaluable writers who have been telling the stories of teenagers set adrift.
Tanya balks: Bacon is BAD FOR YOU???
Véronique adds: What about a bacon chocolate bar? Two negatives HAVE to make a positive, right?
Andrea is concerned about bacon and chocolate, together, advertised as follows:
Breathe…engage your five senses, close your eyes and inhale deeply. Be in the present moment, notice the color of the chocolate, the glossy shine. Rub your thumb over the chocolate bar to release the aromas of smoked applewood bacon flirting with deep milk chocolate. Snap off just a tiny piece and place it in your mouth, let the lust of salt and sweet coat your tongue.
They conclude rather more pragmatically with the words “Consume within eight weeks.”by