Media Multitasking

Issues Posed in Measuring the Effects of Televison Sexual Content Exposure

Published in: Communication Methods and Measures, v. 2, nos. 1 & 2, Jan. 2008, p. 65-79

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2008

by Rebecca L. Collins

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Adolescents who see more sexual content on television are more likely to initiate intercourse over the subsequent year. The present study hypothesized that use of the Internet while watching television would moderate this relationship. A national sample of 1,762 12-17-year-olds completed a telephone survey at baseline and one year later. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to predict intercourse initiation by follow-up among baseline virgins and to test for an interaction between sexual content exposure and self-reported multitasking. The interaction was significant; exposure to sexual content on television was more strongly related to sexual initiation among multitaskers. Divided attention may allow television messages to βslip past the radarγ of viewers who would reject these messages if they devoted cognitive resources to critically examining them. Future studies of television-viewing effects may need to assess multitasking to avoid missing effects in this important subgroup of viewers.

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