New study disputed link between sex on TV and teens’ sexual activity

    A widely publicized 2006 study suggested that the more kids are exposed to sex in the media, the more likely they are to have sex before age 16. A new study from Temple University disputes the link.

    A widely publicized 2006 study suggested that the more kids are exposed to sex in the media, the more likely they are to have sex before age 16. A new study from Temple University disputes the link.

    Psychologist Laurence Steinberg used the same data as the older study; interviews with over a thousand middle school students from urban, suburban and rural areas. But Steinberg used a more conservative statistical method in making his analysis. He first matched teens in terms of relationships with parents, upbringing, school performance, religiousness, and sexual activity among their friends. Then he compared how much sexy media they consumed, and their levels of sexual activity. He says once the other factors were controlled for, the link between media and sexual activity disappears:

    Steinberg:
    we found that after taking the other factors into account that watching sexualized media, or listening to sexualized media has no impact whatsoever on the age at which adolescents become sexually active.

    MS: none?

    LS: zero

    Steinberg says upbringing and not media is the biggest influence on sexual behaviors in teens. The earlier study and other research found that teens’ exposure to sexualized media increases the likelihood of sexual activity, and also causes teens to have sex at earlier ages.

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