Media is a powerful tool that can give informative insights on STDs.

What Affect Does the Media Have on Adolescent Sexual Behavior?

by Martha Holden

The media, according to the website of the Newspaper Association of America Foundation, is an integral part of the lives of American teenagers. They are usually engrossed in activities such as social networking, exchanging messages, viewing photos, playing games or watching videos while consuming the contents of the media. Some of the things that your child may encounter during his interaction with the media might even be of a sexual nature. This will impact her adolescent sexual behavior in various ways.

1. Sexual Objectification

The media causes adolescent males to view women as sexual objects by imitating content that depicts women this way. For adolescent females, they alter their perception of reality to conform to the media’s depiction of women as sexual objects that are subjected to mistreatment. Objectification of females is common in music videos, which often further the notion that men in are more worthy than women. For example, a music video may display beautiful women who seem obsessed by a desire to please the male characters in the video.

2. Early Sexual Activity

According to the Rand Corporation, a not-for-profit research organization, teenagers exposed to sexually oriented television shows are likely to become sexually active at an early age. A study the organization conducted in February 2013 revealed that teenagers who watched sexual content on television frequently were likely to have first-time sex in the following year. The influence of the media, in this regard, extends to shows that include scenes where characters speak about sex. Such exposure might expose your daughter to early pregnancy by engaging in teen sex.

3. Sexual Openness

Teenagers find the media as an ample platform for them to be sexually open about their sexual orientation, desires and experiences. This is especially prevalent in the digital media where they use social networks, blogs and cellphones to express themselves sexually. Examples of ways in which adolescents may express themselves include erotic poems, sexting or posting nude pictures of themselves. The Internet allows adolescents to explore or assert their sexual desires in ways that are impossible in the real world. This emboldens them to assert themselves sexually in their offline relationships.

4. Influence Responsible Behavior

The media can encourage responsible sexual behavior by providing teenagers with sexual information regarding issues such as use of condoms, avoiding STDs, abstinence and masturbation. For example, a magazine can be a wealth of information for your daughter when grappling with a sexual health issue. It gives her privacy because she may be embarrassed to inform people about her issue. The media also influences responsible sexual behavior by providing information through entertaining and educating content. It may be a soap opera that entertains and enlightens the audience on a specific issue, such as the need for abstinence.

About the Author

Martha Holden began writing professionally in 2002. She has contributed articles on food, weddings, travel, human resources/management and parenting to numerous publications. Holden holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of Houston.

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