Sexual Teens, Sexual Media: Investigating Media's Influence on Adolescent Sexuality

Sexual Teens, Sexual Media: Investigating Media's Influence on Adolescent Sexuality

Sexual Teens, Sexual Media: Investigating Media's Influence on Adolescent Sexuality

Sexual Teens, Sexual Media: Investigating Media's Influence on Adolescent Sexuality

Synopsis

This collection explores the sexual content of U.S. mass media and its influence in the lives of adolescents. Contributors address the topic of sexuality broadly, including evidence not only about physical sex acts, but also about the role the media play in the development of gender roles, standards of beauty, courtship, and relationship norms. Chapters included here present new perspectives on what teens are paying attention to in the media, and offer insight into how teens are understanding and applying what the media present about sex and sexuality. Employing various methodological approaches, the studies also represent a diversity of adolescent audiences and deal with a wide variety of media content, ranging from teens' favorite TV programs to magazines, movies, music, and teen girls' Web pages. Taken as a whole, this volume highlights the significant roles the media play in adolescents' sexual lives. Sexual Teens, Sexual Media contributes important evidence to the ongoing debate over media effects, making it essential reading for scholars and students in media studies, as well as social and developmental psychology.

Excerpt

Young people today are faced with often conflicting and confusing messages about how they are supposed to behave sexually. Adults and socializing institutions in the culture are not in agreement about when, what, or where youth should learn about sexuality. Although we might hope that parents would be the primary source of sexual guidance for their children, parents often find it difficult to present timely and clear expectations, or even accurate information. Many parents want schools to provide sexuality education, but schools are increasingly reluctant to do more than say “Wait until marriage. ” And many religious institutions still maintain that sex outside heterosexual marriage is a sin. In contrast, the mass media—television, movies, magazines, music, the Internet—are not at all reticent, frequently portraying sexual behavior as riveting, central in everyday life, and emotionally and physically risk free.

Many adults haven't liked what they've seen about sex in the media, but they don't agree about what should be done about it, either. Religious leaders, parents, and some politicians, claiming that the media encourage youth to be sexually active before they are ready and without the sanction of marriage, want the media to clean up their acts. Health advocates argue that if we're going to have sex in the media, at the least we should show the risks and responsibilities too. Politicians threaten further regulation if program ratings and content blocking devices such as the V-chip aren't sufficient. But media producers say, “Leave us alone; we're exercising our constitutional rights. ” Advertising executives believe that sex sells and don't want to give up their potential advantage in a highly competitive marketplace.

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