Kids and Media Exposure to Sex

A listener labeled his email to me:
 
“The Newest Movie “Trash” Banned in Utah! Go Utah!” 
I read recently that some parts of Utah had banned the release of the new film “Zack and Miri Make a Porno”. The film is about a guy and girl who have nothing better in their dull lives to do but to produce a pornographic film together just for the fun of it. I, for one, am sick and tired of films that exploit women AND men!!! Whatever happened to going to the cinema and watching a good movie?

Thank God that Utah, a state that won’t forfeit its values and morals, stands up to films such as these, and won’t let them play in theaters there. I am a high school teacher, and believe me, Dr. Laura, our kids are craving to be taught values and morals. They want direction. They need direction. Films like these are teaching them that sex is just something that can be played with. I teach a student who has been sexually abused by his own stepfather, and I’m trying to guide him and show him a bit of comfort that he has never received….It breaks my heart to know what he has suffered, and it also breaks my heart to see students being exposed to trashy sex and stupid behavior on film. This kind of sick mess makes our jobs much more difficult in the teaching arena…. it’s time that we did something about this trash that’s being shown to our children. “

This email coincided with a US News and World Report study that sounds like “yes/no yes/no” silliness. The new research suggests that teens who spend the most time watching sexually charged television shows are twice as likely to become pregnant or impregnate someone else.

No kidding.  My generation grew up on The Flying Nun and Leave it to Beaver.  I never knew anyone who knew anyone who got pregnant in high-school. 

Here’s where the back-and-forth nonsense begins.  First, the report says that these findings don’t prove that sexy programming causes pregnancy – well, of course it doesn’t “cause” pregnancy.  But it is clear that a permissive media has a huge influence on impressionable teens, opening them up to behaviors which are not in their best interests, emotionally or medically. 

Interestingly, the researchers refused to “name names” with respect to which television shows they considered “sexually charged.”  I guess they don’t want to be open to lawsuits for suggesting that there are specific programs on the air that hurt children by opening them up to behaviors which could lead to unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, or the psychological trauma of sexual abuse.

Dr. Dimitri A. Christakis, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington who studies kids and television says that these findings “add to the growing body of evidence that what children see on screen affects their behavior in real life.”  I’ve always gotten a laugh from much of what psychological research – a soft science at best – finds.  They state the obvious like it was a revelation and they get grant money to do it. 

Let’s see, if we didn’t think that media impacted how people behave in real life, how long would the advertising business last?  Oh please, they pay millions for product placement movies…to influence you,   They pay millions for seconds of promotion on SuperBowl Sunday…to influence you.  It must work.  So to be “surprised” at the impact of images and behavior the media immerses our children in has got to be some kind of joke.

Back to the beginning… hooray for Utah.  Parents who want to expose their children to “trash” can always buy it on the Internet.