A study of 754 kids shows that those who watched television with adult content may become sexually active earlier in adolescence.
The research was done at Children’s Hospital Boston. They tracked kids from age 6 to 18, following what the children watched over the years. When the youngest kids (aged 6-8) watched adult-themed movies and TV, they were a whopping 33 percent more likely to have sex “during early adolescence”.
Children learn from 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.
Anyone who has read my blogs before knows that I’m a bit of a lunatic when it comes to TV watching I believe parents should monitor and limit television consumption. I use the word “consumption” because it should be managed like a treat, not sustenance, just as snacks in a well-rounded, healthy diet.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than two hours of TV daily for children. I appreciate their media limit suggestion, but I still think that’s too much. A recent study showed that two hours daily raised the risk of asthma in kids.
Also, that much TV makes me wonder: if your child goes to school all day, comes home and gets that media fill, then does homework and chores and eats dinner, when does she find time to be outdoors?
And now it seems as though it’s not only how much you let the kiddos watch, but the content, too. Perhaps “Twilight” isn’t the best choice for little ones. Or “Sex and the City” for your tween girl. Or prime-time programming that is rich with sexual innuendo for any of the under-teen set.
Use your best sense, folks. If you want to reward your child with the treat of a movie, make sure you’d be comfortable watching it with your own great-grandmother.
As study co-author Dr. David Bickham said,
Adult entertainment often deals with issues and challenges that adults face, including the complexities of sexual relationships. 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.
Ain’t nuthin’ good about too much TV.
Image: AH!Photography on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.
I agree that too much TV isn’t good for children (or anyone for that matter). However, I disagree with Dr. Bickham’s statement
“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.”
It implies that ALL children (under 18?) are unable to differentiate between reality from entertainment, which is untrue. It depends on the child. I was watching horror movies at age 6. I’m not saying this is for everyone, but for me personally, my Dad told me that what I watched on TV was make believe, and that was that. Today, I know many adults that have problems with differentiating fantasy from reality… like with advertising. “Product A will make me happier/healthier/smarter/sexier/etc, so I must buy it!” Like I said before, it depends on the person.
Cate Nelson says
I’m sure you’re right. When I was a teen and watching sitcoms, I got the difference between reality and exaggerations for comedic effect.
I believe that Bickham was referring to the young kids (aged 6-8) not being able to tell those differences. Also, you mentioned your father. I’m not sure everyone out there watches TV with their kids and engages them in discussion about the programming. That’s too bad.
I know people who let their 7yo watch Twilight. Way too much sexual tension in there for a girl that age, IMO. How do you explain that to someone that age?
I don’t think it’s a cause=effect thing. Like: one bad movie, and the child will be promiscuous. But I do think exposure should be taken into consideration for people. Sure, it’s easy to pop your kid in front of the TV. Doing the best thing isn’t always easy. (Lucky for me, my kids like to be “free range”!)
Unfortunately, it’s not just prime time shows with “adult content” that we need to watch out for as parents. I was in the Dr.’s waiting room with my 4 year old and Disney was on. The show was called “The Suite Life with Zach and Cory”. It totally affirmed my decision to ban Disney from my home. I was appalled by the content. The soap opera like storyline is ludicrous. We’re forcing our kids to grow up way too quickly by giving access to this kind of garbage. My kids are too important to me to let television executives brainwash them. If you can’t get your kids away from the TV, put limits on what they CAN watch. The food network, discovery channel, and national geographic have great shows and even their commercials are usually benign.
Frank Martin DiMeglio says
I demand a ban on childhood viewing of TV based on the following. The government and the APA are doing nothing about this! Why? Money, control, and politics.
The overeating during television occurs in keeping with the fact that TV is an extended, interactive, and unnatural form of dream vision AS waking vision. Bodily feeling/sensation is therefore reduced during TV (as is the case during dream experience), so the feeling of fullness is reduced/lacking. Dr. Joyce Starr agrees with this as well. (Television is an unnatural creation of generalized thought; accordingly, TV may be held to be a generalized hallucination.) The experience of sound and vision in/as TV is even more like thought than in the case of the vision and sound in the dream.
Emotion is manifest as sensory experience and feeling.
TV involves emotional detachment, disintegration, contraction, and loss; and this certainly relates to (or involves) depression and anxiety as well. Importantly, TV also reduces memory and thought; and this is also consistent with/similar to dream experience. Hence, the overeating while watching television relates to the reduction in thought and memory as well. Frank Martin DiMeglio (author/expert)
Television is only possible because this disintegration, reconfiguration, contraction (i.e., compression), and extension of visual sensory experience occurs during dreams. Accordingly, both television viewing and dreams may be said to include (or involve) reduced ability to think, anxiety, and increased distractibility. Television thus compels attention, as it is compelled in the dream; but it is an unnatural and hallucinatory experience. Hence, television is addictive. Similar to the visual experience while dreaming, television compels attention to the relative exclusion of other experience. Television reduces consciousness and results in a flattening of the visual experience as a result of combining waking visual experience with relatively unconscious visual experience. Television involves the experience of what is less animate, for it involves a significant reduction in (or loss of) visual experience. This disintegration of the visual experience (as in the dream) also results in an emotional disintegration (i.e., anxiety). That television may be so described (and even possible) is hard to imagine; but this is consistent with the fact that it took so very many different minds (and thoughts) of genius in order to make the relatively unconscious visual experience of the dream conscious. Since the thinking that is involved in making the experience of television possible is so enormously difficult, it becomes difficult to think while partaking of that experience. Television may be seen as an accelerated form or experience of art, thereby making someone less wary (or less anxious) initially, but less creative and more anxious (as time passes) as the advance of the self becomes unsustainable. The experience (or effects) of television demonstrates the interactive nature of being and experience; for, in the dream, there is also a reduction in the totality (or extensiveness) of experience.
Thought involves a relative reduction in the range and extensiveness of feeling. In keeping with this, dreams make thought more like sensory experience in general. Accordingly, both thought and also the range and extensiveness of feeling are proportionately reduced in the dream. (This reduction in the range and extensiveness of feeling during dreams is consistent with the fact that the experience of smell very rarely occurs therein.) Since there is a proportionate reduction of both thought and feeling during dreams, the experience of the body is generally (or significantly) lacking; for thought is fundamentally rendered more like sensory experience in general. Thoughts and emotions are differentiated feelings. By involving the mid-range of feeling between thought and sense, dreams make thought more like sensory experience in general. The reduction in the range and extensiveness of feeling during dreams is why there is less memory and thought therein.
Dream vision is generally closer (or flattened), thereby resulting in a loss/reduction of peripheral vision as well. Comparatively, television further flattens vision; and it also involves a reduction in peripheral vision.
In the dream, vision and thought are semi-detached from touch (and feeling). One may or may not be able to touch what is seen in the dream. In the visual experience that is television, the visual images may not be (and are not) touched at all. In the case of waking vision, one can [generally] touch what one sees.
It is not only in the dream that the vision of each individual person is necessarily different. That is obvious. Importantly, the experience of television is uniquely that of the individual.
Television may be understood as a creation of generalized thought. The ability of thought to describe or reconfigure sense is ultimately dependent upon the extent to which thought is similar to sense.
Television makes thought even more like vision than in the dream, thereby reducing thought and vision. Thoughts are relatively shifting and variable. Likewise, dream vision is relatively shifting and variable. In the case (and form) of television, the visual images become more shifting and variable than that of the dream; and this is in keeping with attention being compelled and sustained in conjunction with these images being even more like (or consistent with) thought. People tend to believe what they see (and hear) during television.
Ordinary (and natural) vision is removed and replaced in the case of television. Unlike art, which can be the interactive creation of any one person, television is impossible for any one person to possibly create or otherwise experience.
Television is an hallucination. Hallucinations are already known to be connected with/associated with/”caused by” all sorts of very serious mental/physical/emotional conditions or disorders. It is undeniable that this is a very important and serious matter.