The past 30 years have witnessed a continued rise in the rate of adolescent sexual intercourses than any other period in the past. This is the same period when the world has witnessed a revolution in electronic media. A closer study reveals that the two events are closely related and connected and that media can influence human behavior. Social problems like teenage pregnancy and sexual intercourse can be attributed to irresponsible exposure to explicit media content.
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Adolescent’s life can be very confusing as they are usually very ready to make risky choices in a bid to be heard and seen. They are usually uncertain of their expected social behavior and will most likely do something that will get them a high rating from their peer. The media, have become the best platform that helps them to network with their peers, kill boredom, get entertained, get educations, news, information, stimulation, and emotional arousal.
On average, teenagers spend between 23-24 hours watching TV every week. This translates to over 15,000 hours of TV watching by the time they are through high school compared to 11, 000 hours they spend in class doing studies. This trend is expected to continue in the next 10 years. Contents that were regarded as adult material some few years back are featured on the TV every passing hour, from kissing to sexually suggestive dialogues.
Parents, relatives, and friends present 50% sources of responsible sexual education like birth control and abstinence. The media presents less than 25% of responsible sex education. The problem with TV and Movies is that teenagers tend to believe what they see or hear from this media. The music video is another source of sex information that has negative impacts on teenagers. It’s not surprising that only 15% of those who are 12 to 18 years old understand song lyrics, as most of them are drawn to the sexual nature and contents in a song.
Television, the Internet, magazines, and movies are a major source of teenage sex education, focusing mainly on contents that affect teenager negatively; these contents include rape, homosexuality, abortion, divorce, and infidelity. There are little or no sex contents that have positive effects on teenagers. Abstinence, self-control, responsibility, and birth control are topics that are rarely featured in the electronic and print media.
The availability of computers connected to the internet in almost every household in the United States has also contributed to negative sexual behaviors in teenagers. Adolescents now have free and easy access to adult content on the internet. The vice is not limited to computers and Television. Most of the video games in the market today are full of explicit content which includes gang rapes and suggestive dialogues. When kids are exposed to such content at an early stage, their minds become easily corrupted.
Advertisement is yet another source of negative sex education. Many advertisers use adverts with sex appeal when putting their products on the market. Most products feature almost nude models when they are being launched. Sex has become part of today’s marketing with far-reaching negative effects on teenagers.
Early exposure to sexual content from movies, magazines, televisions, and the Internet is a form of a heavy sexual diet that results in increases sexual activity at a tender age of 12 to 16 years. When exposed to such content, the teenager tends to think that all their counterparts are having sex, and in a bid to be like everyone else, they end up having sex.
Courtship is the media usually features the males competing for a female, in this case, the female is viewed as a sexual object and her value is based on her physical appearance and her sex appeal. Such frequent portrayals which endorse women as sexual object and men as sexually greedy usually send the wrong message to the adolescent as young boys and girls tend to think that all that matter is physical appearance and sex appeal at the expense of important aspects like good educations and responsible living.
Increased sexual activities without early guidance on birth control and contraceptives have resulted in increased cases of teenage pregnancies. Adolescents are engaging in sexual behaviors that are risky without any consideration or guidance on the potential outcomes. Early teenage sexual intercourses have also been known to have increased risk associated with sexually transmitted infections as the young youths are likely to engage in multiple sexual intercourses under the influence of alcohol and other drugs without considering the use of condoms and other contraceptives.
Sexual and violent content has been known to impair memory of both the adolescent and the adults. This is because, whenever people pay attention to violence and sex, they reduce the attention they pay to adverts or music content that have violence to sexuality. The effects are far more damaging in adolescents than in adults. Besides, sexual and violent contents usually prompt violent and sexual thoughts. Sexually explicit media have been known to promote skeptical attitudes about marriage and love, lack of sympathy, and the perception that it’s alright when an individual is promiscuous.
Parents can play a greater role in reducing risks associated with early exposure to sexual content through media. It is high time that parents open up and face reality before any more damage can be done. Parents should recognize that the media have very limited sex education content that can impacts an adolescent positively. It is the role of parents to provide the bulk of information on issues like the use of contraceptives, abstinence, birth control, responsibility living, and self-control. Adolescents should be told the truth as it is, not as they perceive it to be from what they see on TV, read in a magazine or hear from music. This is one responsibility that parents can not afford to pass on to the media or any other avenue.
A concerted effort between media owners and parents to control what can be accessed by adolescents can also play a greater role in reducing negative impacts resulting from exposure to explicit sexual content. Parental control on what an adolescent can view from TV, access from the internet, or read from the magazine also plays a vital role in controlling adolescent behavior.
The introduction of broad Sex Education into the mainstream curriculum has also been viewed as an effective tool toward enlightening the youth on what is reality and what is not. The sex education curriculum can be designed in a way that instead of opposing what the media presents; can be used to offer further explanation of what is presented. The media can also play a greater role in shaping teenagers by providing sex content that brings positive impacts to the youth. Such contents include abstinence, use of contraceptives, birth controls, and responsible living.
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The media can influence human behavior. Part of today’s social problems can be traced from negative information that youths get from both electronic media and print media. On TV, videos, and music, there are repeated scenes with rape, homosexuality, abortion, divorce, and infidelity. These negative sexual contents lead to teenage sexual intercourses, early pregnancies, and corrupted minds. Parents have a role to play in enlightening the teenagers on what is true as far as sex is concerned.
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