Does television influence the sexual behaviour of teenagers?

A new study suggests that teenagers who spend a lot of time watching television shows filled with sexually explicit contents are more at risk of either becoming pregnant, or of causing a pregnancy. A closer look at these statistics nevertheless suggests that the relationship between the two is a very complex one.

A new study suggests that teenagers who spend a lot of time watching television shows filled with sexually explicit contents are more at risk of either becoming pregnant, or of causing a pregnancy. A closer look at these statistics nevertheless suggests that the relationship between the two is a very complex one.

The results of the study also reveal that teenage girls who watch a lot more television than the average teen are less susceptible of having to contend with a pregnancy. But how can this be possible? Instinctively, we can believe that teenagers who spend a majority of their leisure time in front of the small screen are not out of the house socializing with friends and dating.

Moreover, the connection between the elevated risk of pregnancy and television-watching only takes place when the shows being watched are highly sexual in nature. Therefore, when most of the television shows a teenager watches are sexually explicit, the risk of pregnancy doubles compared to teenagers who watch little television, or those who watch shows with very low sexual contents.

Even though the study establishes a link between television and teenage pregnancy, many other factors can influence the data.

The fact that casual, non-consequential sex is omnipresent in so many current films and television shows cannot be denied. And the use of condoms is never suggested during steamy sex scenes, nor do we ever hear one-night partners discuss the subject of contraception or protection against sexually transmitted infections.

It is nonetheless essential for teenagers to learn to make the distinction between fiction and reality. Because the truth is that in real life, one night of unprotected passion can have very dramatic, life-altering consequences. Our teenagers need us to talk to them about sex. And if you need to, you can refer them to a health professional, or have them visit the website of the Society of Obstetrician and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) at www.sexualityandu.ca.

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