Did you watch Glee last night? I did, and was sadly not surprised at one of the main themes flowing through the entire episode: SEX. Last night’s whole show was a tribute to Madonna, and one of the key songs of the episode, a cover of "Like a Virgin", was belted out during a montage featuring three people (two of them in the high school glee club) being "touched for the very first time"…if you know what I mean.
TV Is Giving Them Ideas!
On shows like Gossip Girl and Sex and the City, while most of their characters are sexually more experienced than the innocent (or "innocent"?) high schoolers on Glee, many of the same sex-themed currents run through almost every single episode. It’s no doubt that prime time TV is geared toward a mature audience, but teenagers are still watching, and this is putting ideas in their heads.
Findings of a New Study
A Children’s Hospital Boston study found that teens who watched adult-themed movies and television shows as children become sexually active at a younger age than their peers. This strikes me as unsurprising since shows like Glee, with a TV-14 rating, can center entire episodes around the one thing that apparently never gets old: S-E-X. The study, which monitored 754 participants when they were children and then again when they were between the ages of 12 and 18, suggested that the earlier in their life they were exposed to adult content, the earlier they became sexually active. For every hour of adult-targeted television or movies watched over two sample days by children when they were 6 to 8 years old, there was a 33% increased risk of becoming sexually active in early adolescence.
Kids Learn From the Media…
However, sticking with my main example, last night’s episode of Glee showed that even if you want to give up your V-card, sometimes you have to stay true to yourself by realizing that you may not be ready for this big step. At this point in the episode, I was glad for the sake of teenagers everywhere that both sides of the coin were portrayed. They may not realize it, but kids really learn about sex from pop culture icons — whether it’s a character from a television show like Glee, or even a favorite sports star like Tiger Woods. "Television and movies are among the leading sources of information about sex and relationships for adolescents. Our research shows that their sexual attitudes and expectations are influenced much earlier in life," lead author Dr. Hernan Delgado, a fellow in the Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine, said in a Children’s Hospital news release.
…And They Mirror What They See
"Adult entertainment often deals with issues and challenges that adults face, including the complexities of sexual relationships," co-author David Bickham, staff scientist in the Center on Media and Child Health, said in the news release. "Children have neither the life experience nor the brain development to fully differentiate between a reality they are moving toward and a fiction meant solely to entertain," Bickham explained. "Children learn from the media, and when they watch media with sexual references and innuendos, our research suggests they are more likely to engage in sexual activity earlier in life." While the information provided by this study is not groundbreaking — let’s be real, I could have guessed that kids will start having sex earlier if they watch a lot of TV with pervasive sex themes — it is important for considering future implications in the lives of your kids.