Study Prompts Call for Parents to Monitor Teens' TV Time

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:05pm EDT

( - Parents have another "compelling" reason to monitor their teens' television viewing habits because of a new study that shows teens who watch many shows with sexual content are twice as likely to have sex than teens who watch fewer such programs, a family group said Tuesday.

The study by the RAND Corp and funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development was published in the September issue of "Pediatrics," the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

"Clearly, early sexual activity on the part of teenagers leads to such negative consequences as sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancies - not to mention unseen emotional damage," said Rick Schatz, president and CEO of the National Coalition for the Protection of Children & Families.

"The good news is that by helping their kids think critically about what they see on TV, parents can actually play an important role in helping prevent their kids from making some bad choices," Schatz said.

Schatz' group has developed a curriculum titled Sex & Young America, to help parents and teen understand the media's impact on young people's sexual behavior.

"In talking with thousands of teens across the country, we found that most of them were unaware of the ways in which media impacted their attitudes about sex and consequently their behavior," noted Jack Samad, producer of the Sex & Young America curriculum and senior vice president for Internet Safety and Strategic Partnerships.

"This study flies in the face of those who claim that what we watch has no impact on our behavior," Samad said.

"While parents certainly need to be willing to be the 'bad guys' and monitor their kids' TV viewing, this also should be a loud wake-up call for the broadcast and cable industries to offer programming that won't send kids the message that sex with anybody at any time is free of consequences," he concluded.

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