Monday, November 3, 2008


According to a leading CNN article, this is apparently the case. Elizabeth Landau writes:
Sexual content on television is strongly associated with teen pregnancy, a new study from the RAND Corporation shows. Researchers at the nonprofit organization found that adolescents with a high level of exposure to television shows with sexual content are twice as likely to get pregnant or impregnate someone as those who saw fewer programs of this kind over a period of three years. It is the first study to demonstrate this association, RAND said.
A central message from the study is that there needs to be more dialogue about sex in the media, particularly among parents and their children, said Anita Chandra, the study's lead author and a behavioral scientist at RAND.


She goes on to note:
"We know that parents are busy, but sitting down and watching shows together with their teen, talking about the character portrayals, talking about what they just witnessed, and really using it as a teachable moment is really, I think, a good recommendation from this research," Chandra said.

It doesn't take very long for one to recognize and concur with Elizabeth that:
"We know that if a child is watching more than an hour of TV a day, we know there's a sexual scene in [the] content every 10 minutes, then they're getting a fair amount of sexual content," Chandra said.

Dr. Wimberly, professor at Moorehouse School of Medicine, writes:
"You cannot expect to have a sexually saturated society with all of your media outlets, but then, at the same time, be surprised when this influences people and their behaviors," she said. "If you're going to do it, then you need to make sure you follow it up with education that people need to make responsible decisions."
It's crucial that parents and guardians talk to their kids about these topics and teach morals and values, but they can do only so much in limiting the amount of sexual content that their teenagers see on television, Wimberly said. Youths will have exposure to these programs outside of the home, such as at friends' houses or on the Internet.


According to these quotes, we find that many young adolescent pregnancies are--in part, at least--attributed to the sexual content they are viewing on television. To be sure, according to a few recent polls, teen boys watch about 13 hours a TV a week whereas teenage girls only watch about 11 1/2 hours per week. Because we know what kind of content we find on TV these days--from sitcoms, to movies, to talk/late night shows, to the news, and to music videos, it is no surprise that sex is a leading theme in many of these shows. It can't be denied that we are, indeed, a sex-driven society. Everyone thinks about it. Everyone hears about it. Everyone sees it in some way, shape or form. And all of the hours and hours and hours that teens spend in front of a TV screen doesn't help--especially when Hollywood is promoting the godless and the unbiblical portrayal of what sex is really about.

This is where it is absolutely crucial for parents to teach, train, nurture, and educate our children regarding these issues. Sheltering them is not the issue. A naive child is a fool--according to Proverbs:

Proverbs 1:22 "How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing And fools hate knowledge?

It is the naive one who is easily swayed to the house of the prostitute according to Proverbs 9.

What can be done? Obviously we can eliminate televisions, movies, etc. from our homes so our children don't see these things--or so we think. I'm amazed at how much (sexual) content some young kids know! Friends, billboards, movies, school, media all are throwing these ideologies and worldly wisdom at our children. Removing TV's is not the solution.

The biblical solution is training your children (teaching them!) in the "discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Eph 6:4). That's the answer! We must not--indeed, we cannot--hide all the cultural content from our children (nor should we want to), but we should use every occasion for a teaching opportunity so that our children learn discernment and filter everything through their biblical worldview which has been shaped and formed over time through the reading and study of the Scriptures with mom and dad. That means responsibility. That requires time. That requires a load on your shoulders--but that's precisely how God intended it to be done. Hear what he said through Moses to the Israelites:

Deuteronomy 6:7 7 You shall teach them [these words] diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.

That requires teaching children as a way of life--when you sit at home, walk along the way, lie down, and when you rise up. Take every opportunity to teach your kids that sex is good--but it is to find its activity only in the marriage relationship. Everything else dishonors God and is sinful therefore deserving of hell.

Yes television may impact teens today and attribute--in part--to young pregnancies, but we must take the Scriptures and make it our goal to inform and train our children with what God has to say about the matter so that they can discern right from wrong when they're confronted with sexual content in the "real world."

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