Teens that watch steamy TV shows are more likely than their peers to get pregnant or get someone pregnant.
That’s the conclusion of a 3-year observational study of TV viewing behavior in 700 sexually active adolescents between the ages of 12-17. Twenty-five percent of the teens in the cohort that watched the hot shows most frequently were involved in a pregnancy during the study period. Only 12% of those who rarely or never watched the shows were so involved.
The study appears in this week’s Pediatrics. It builds on earlier studies linking pulpy TV viewing to early onset of sexual activity, and on studies linking explicit music videos to increased risk of sexually transmitted disease.
“We really need to encourage schools to make abstinence-centered programs a priority,” Valerie Huber told the Washington Post. Huber works with the National Abstinence Education Association.
But some insist school based abstinence programs don’t work. “The absolutely last thing we should do…is bury our heads in the sand and promote failed abstinence-only programs,” James Wagoner of Advocates for Youth responded to the Post.
Wagoner suggested “evidence-based sex education that helps young people delay sex and use prevention when they become sexually active.”
For their part, the investigators recommended that parents find out what their kids watch, discuss it with them, and make it clear there can be negative consequences of sexual activity such as pregnancy and STDs. They also called on TV programmers to include more realistic portrayals of the risks of sex.
Like that’s gonna’ happen. Meanwhile, it’s important to note the study does not prove that watching sexed-up TV shows causes teens to get pregnant, only that there is a correlation between the two.