Sex on Television and Its Impact on American Youth

Background and Results from the RAND Television and Adolescent Sexuality Study

Published in: Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, v. 14, no. 3, July 2005, p. 371-385

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2005

by Rebecca L. Collins

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Many policy makers and parents have called for stricter regulation of television, fearing that the sexual content in this medium spurs adolescent sexual activity. Media theory and research over the last few decades are consistent with this notion but fall short of answering the question of whether television content is causally related to adolescent sexual behavior. This article briefly reviews this earlier work and discusses the results of several new studies based on the RAND Television and Adolescent Sexuality data set. Practitioners should discuss television use and television portrayals of sex with adolescents, and help youth to identity and avoid any adverse effects the media might have on their sexual development and sexual behavior.

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