After you, the responsible parent has drilled into your children’s heads the facts about and the consequences that go along with participating in premarital sexual activity, ideally you would love to think that they have listened to you and that they will do the right thing and not have sex. While parents most of the time may consider the effects that outside influences could have on their children’s decision making, a great question to ask is how often do parents consider the influences that television has on their children’s decision making?
Living in the land of instant gratification and phenomenal technology, cable television (once a rarity in the typical American household), has become the most prevalent technology in homes today. Do parents really take a step back to examine the shows their children are watching on T.V.? Are the children watching sexually charged programs, ones that could promote sexual activity amongst teenagers? A study done by the University of Michigan Health System reports that the T.V. viewing among kids is on an eight year high (http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/tv.htm). And this behavior, is taking time away from spending it with their families.
Can sum of the shows that are available to children help promote abstinence from sexual activity (and other types of negative behavior) or do they help increase the desire to participate in negative behaviors. The answer is yes! Because many parents have not had the opportunity to really discuss sex with their children, they learn it from their friends and from television. It was reported that the number of TV sex scenes has nearly doubled since 1988. One can now find sex in music videos, soap operas, prime time shows, and product advertising commercials just to name a few.
However, there are two shows that recently have stuck out like a sore thumb on television. The first one is “The Secret Life of the American Teenager”. This show is centered on a girl who comes from an upper middle class family. She gets pregnant, her family really helps her out, and they work together to make sure that she has a life with a balance between school work, having a social life, and being a parent. While the picture pained on this movie would be the ideal situation for any girl who finds herself with an unwanted pregnancy, this show helps to glorify the idea that it is okay to have unprotected sex.
The next show is an MTV show called “16 and Pregnant”. This show could be a deterrent from abstinence because it portrays the difficulties that real teenage mothers have after becoming pregnant from having challenges getting along with the a parents and oftentimes the teenage boy in the situation leaves. Studies show that when children watch sexually charged programs, their chances of remaining abstinent are decreased dramatically and they begin having sex at earlier ages. As a result, they may find themselves in the situation that could become a family nightmare! So the most important question to ask yourself as a parent is, “Do you know what your kids are watching on T.V. and do you agree with it?”