In a society where knowledge is easily accessible on the Internet and anything can be shown on television, the generation of 2010 no longer separates business from pleasure. America’s youth is becoming corrupted by television and brainwashed to engage in activities that they are too inexperienced to do. With the excessive amount of sexual content displayed on television, teenage students have become influenced by this behavior.
Popular shows like “Gossip Girl” and “90210” glamorize pre-marital, teen sex and openly promote it. The characters are all high school students and they engage in promiscuous activities. Children who watch these programs often have trouble discriminating between real life and fantasy. In 2002, 1 out of every 7 programs included a portrayal of sexual intercourse.
The risks involved with engaging in sex are rarely displayed. Fifteen percent of the shows that display sex include sexual risks, abstinence or protection was depicted. One out of every 4 sexually active teens is diagnosed for a sexually transmitted disease (STD). In 2001, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that 60 percent of teens get information about contraceptives, STDs and sexual health choices from TV and 62 percent from their health care providers.
Teenagers are likely to mimic what they see and hear on television in real life because they want to be like these people. They become obsessed with this glamorous, fictional lifestyle and want to experience it for themselves.
Even activities as simple as kissing has turned into quite the scandal with the constant make-out sessions students witness in the hallways during school. There are some teenagers who will not act in this risqué behavior and are aware of the hazards, but others will behave in this manner without thinking about it. Even conversations about the subject influence students. In 2003, sixty-two percent of a group of 12-17 year olds said that sex on TV shows and movies influences kids to have sex when they are too young.
TV shows, especially new ones, on programs like FOX, the CW, and MTV target teenagers. The constant play of sex even pressures teenagers. For instance, in the new Dentyne Ice commercial, everyone acts like the pack of gum is a pack of condoms. In 2002, sixty-four percent of the TV programs contained sexual content with 4.4 scenes per hour.
Not all teenagers are influenced by what they see and hear on television, but some students are more influenced than others. ParentsTV.org reported that from a survey of children ages 10-16, 66 percent said that their peers are influenced by TV shows. Another study of 1,792 children ages 12-17 showed that children who watch sex on TV are influenced to have sex as teenagers. Also, those who watched more sexual content were more likely to “initiate intercourse and progress to more advanced sexual activities.”
While ratings exist to warn children and adults about the content they are watching, most people do not follow them, and they are certainly not enforcing enough. Seventy-eight percent of 18 to 24 year-olds believe that “tougher restrictions are necessary to discourage adolescent sex.”
The hanky panky has been let out of the bag. There will always be students who fall victim to participate in the sexual behavior they see on television, others will stay above the influence. Perhaps television companies should work harder at censoring the sexual content they expose to the youth.