I sound like a broken record when I harp on all the sex in media. Pick a week of TV –Fox’s Glee–the characters are deciding whether or not to have sex; CW’s 90210 is a steady stream of hookups; Two and Half Men–is there even a plot without sex as the main theme? And one of my favorites, the Big Bang Theory, has characters hooking up even though the non-sex story lines are very funny.
According to the University of Michigan’s Health Systems web page:
“The number of sex scenes on TV has nearly doubled since 1998, with 70% of the top 20 most-watched shows by teens including sexual content.
Fifteen percent of scenes with sexual intercourse depict characters that have just met having sex.
Of the shows with sexual content, an average of five scenes per hour involves sex.”
I read this and feel overwhelmed. Why? Because we are doing life together and I know all too well that all this exposure is not having a good end for kids and adults. I’ve seen the consequence side of sexual saturation–good kids and adults whose lives are ruined by porn addictions and sexual consequences never depicted on television– a case of AIDS, genital warts for life, unintended pregnancy, rejection, abandonment, etc.
The experts continue to recommend that we watch media with our kids and discuss the content. Great idea. How real is it? For one thing, kids access media in ways that do not include sitting around the TV in the family room. Consider these figures also posted by the U of M: 71% of 8- to 18-year-olds have a TV in their bedroom; 54% have a DVD/VCR player; 37% have cable/satellite TV; 20% have premium channels.
Furthermore: (also copied from the same site):
- Watching sexual content on TV is linked to becoming pregnant or being responsible for a pregnancy. Researchers found that even after controlling for other risk factors, the chance of teen pregnancy went up with more exposure to sex on television.
- Watching sex on TV increases the chances a teen will have sex, and may cause teens to start having sex at younger ages. Even viewing shows with characters talking about sex increases the likelihood of sexual initiation.
I have to ask. What is the end goal of pushing all this sex in media? What good comes from it? What is the agenda since we have to spend millions on the back end cleaning up the fall out?
Is there really no media responsibility to moderate? I’m not a political person, but I believe there has to be some responsibility taken given the social, health and emotional consequences at play.
In the mean time, what can we parents do (I’m open to suggestions)?
1. Know what your kids are watching. As much effort and time as it does take, stay on top of what they are consuming. This is the only way to can speak to the issues.
2. Keep talking about the content. Even if your kids are like mine and roll their eyes upon occasion, you are an important voice.
3. Get the TV out of your child’s bedroom.
4. Constantly talk about your beliefs and values.
5. Get your kids active in religious groups that will talk about the content and help them navigate the exposure.
6. Write letters to networks and sponsors and complain. Those complaints do get registered.
7. Continue to present the consequences of sexual behavior that media do not present.
8. Take your kids to church and youth groups so they can be exposed to other voices.
9. Pray for our kids. The temptation is great. Offer grace and mercy.
10. Help your children understand how to take thoughts captive, flee from temptation and fight this battle with spiritual weapons. Because the battle is spiritual!
Let’s help and encourage each other!