what’s sex got to do with… TV Shows?

Have you noticed how in almost all TV shows these days, the characters casted to play high school students almost always end up being 20-25 year olds in real life. They never actually cast 16 year olds to play juniors in high school. And the topics presented to us in these TV shows are way too advanced for a 16 year old… am I right? TV shows make it seem as if drinking, doing drugs, and having sex are all things that are normal to do in high school. How does sex on TV really affect a teenagers mind?

Two recent studies led by RAND Health behavioral scientist Rebecca Collins that I came across examined the impact of TV sex on teenagers’ sexual beliefs and activities. Some of the key findings discovered through this research is that “teens who watch a lot of television with sexual content are more likely to initiate intercourse in the following year.” Another finding was that “television in which characters talk about sex affects teens just as much as television that actually shows sexual activity.”

The researchers measured levels of exposure to three kinds of sexual content on television. The first was the exposure to sexual behavior such as kissing, intimate touching, and implied or depicted intercourse. The second was the talk about sexual plans or desires or about sex that has occurred, and third was the talk about or behavior showing the risks of or the need for safety in regard to sexual activity: abstinence, waiting to have sex, portrayals mentioning or showing contraceptives, and portrayals related to consequences, such as AIDS, STDs, pregnancy, and abortion.


The results showed that heavy exposure to sexual content on television related strongly to teens’ initiation of intercourse or their progression to more advanced sexual activities. This includes the advancing to “making out” or oral sex within the following year. Youths who viewed the greatest amounts of sexual content were found to be two times more likely to partake in sexual activities than those who did not watch TV shows depicting sex. So what does TV shows have to do with sex? Shows like Degrassi and One Tree Hill and Secret Life of the American Teenager and 16 & Pregnant all depict sex as a common thing for high schoolers of all ages. It seems normal for you to have sex when you’re a freshman in high school. Although everybody has a right to decide when the right time is for them, I think the above examples are pretty telling statistics of the effects media can have on teenagers. I believe some, especially those who have fewer alternative sources of sexual norms, such as parents or friends, may use the media as a guide to encourage them to be more sexually active. So how early is too early?

2 thoughts on “what’s sex got to do with… TV Shows?

  1. I think that a lot of these shows are centered around sex because of Marxism. Producers know that sex sells, and that’s why the create these shows. Sex definitely sells to group a young, inexperienced teenagers who have curious minds; moreover, many of these teenagers hear about sex from their peers but aren’t really exposed to sex because their parents think that by sheltering them from anything sex-related, they won’t have sex. So, the possibility of being able to put a face on sex excites many teens. While I do think that TV romanticizes sex, any exposure can be beneficial.


  2. I have noticed the same thing in a couple of the tv shows i currently watch and the in the shows I used to watch as a kid growing up. When I was younger, my favorite show was Degrassi, so I know exactly what you are talking about. All of the actors are older than the characters they act play, and this is something that I really started to notice. Personaly, I feel that directors and writers put older actors in place to act out more mature roles intentionally, as they attempt to make the show more dramatic. The more drama there is in the show, the higher ratings will go and the more money there is to be made. However, in doing this i agree with your point that directors send the message to their younger audience that sexual activity is acceptable at whatever age. Although it is not really the right thing to do to put far too mature topics in the mind of the youth, the tv industry is all about ratings and income.


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