Teens Talk About TV, Sex, and Real Life
Young teens rank TV and other media as their top source for information about sexuality and sexual health. A majority of parents say they have talked with their teens about a sexualityrelated issue because of something one of them saw on TV. SIECUS recently asked a group of 12- and 13-year-old students from Baltimore and 16-year-old students from Seattle for their take on TV, sex, and real life. Some of their responses follow:
Do you have conversations about TV content, characters, or storylines with your parents or caregivers? "Sometimes." "No." "If my Mom sees something inappropriate, she'll talk to me about it." "Sometimes I get concerned about what's going on so I ask my parents." If you do, what messages do your receive from them? "Don't do any of the stupid things you see on TV." "That it's all fake." "That what I watch and listen to are bad influences." What messages do you receive from TV about sexuality? "That it's all recreation and fun." "That it's cool and good." "Sex is not a big deal." "The more you have it, the more you have fun." "That it's very important to look good." How do you think these messages affect young people? "They can influence kids to move too fast in relationships and to act too maturely.'" "They make kids think sex is cool because all their favorite stars probably have something to do with sex." "Some people may end up thinking sex isn't such a serious subject." "They think everything on TV is true." "In adult movies, kids are annoying and bad. In kid movies, it's the other way around." "They're showing bad ass kids and that's not realistic. It's making us all seem like that." "Adolescents are portrayed as partying, crazy people." "I don't think they know what a teenager looks like. I mean, not everyone looks like a Vogue supermodel." "If you are smart, you are a nerd. If you are stupid, you are cool. That really gives the wrong message." How do you think TV programs portray young people? How would you like to see TV portray young people? "Show teens as responsible." "As thoughtful people, where boys and girls aren't the only things on their minds." "Get some ugly people on a show and let it be okay."
Parents and TV
70 % of parents of children under 18 years old say they have had a talk about a sexual issue with their child because of something one of them saw on a TV show.
-Sex in the 90s: Kaiser Family Foundation/ABC TV: 1998 National Survey of Americans on Sex and Sexual Health.
45 % of parents of 8- to 12-year-olds say their child has at some point asked a question about sex, AIDS, or some other sensitive issue because of something they saw on TV.
-1996 Kaiser Family Foundation and Children Now Survey on Sex, Kids, and the Family Hour. 63 % of parents are concerned "a great deal" that their children are exposed to too much sexual content on TV.
-2001 Kaiser Family Foundation Survey on Parents and the V-Chip. 64 % of parents say TV and movies have "a lot" of influence on the way their own and other children think about sex, violence, and drugs and alcohol.
Source: 2001 Kaiser Family Foundation and Nickelodeon Survey on Talking with Kids about Tough Issues.
Teens and TV
24 % of teens 12 to 17 years old say they would like more information about sex and relationships from TV. -2001 Kaiser Family Foundation and Seventeen Survey of Teens : Teen's Opinions, Attitudes, and Awareness of Sexually Transmitted Diseases.
Young teens 13 to 15 years old rank the entertainment mediaTV, magazines, movies, and musicas the top source of information about sexuality and sexual health.
Source1997 Kaiser Family Foundation and Children Now National Surveys: Talking with Kids about Tough Issues.
Reprinted with the permission of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. © 2005 SIECUS.
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