Sex in movies can influence teens' sexual behaviours
Washington, July 26 (ANI): Young people who watch more sexual content from movies also tend to engage in more sexual behaviour and begin sexual activity at an earlier age.
This is the finding of a University of Missouri researcher's study.
"We can't say that watching sexual content in movies is directly responsible for adolescents' sexual behaviour," said Ross O'Hara, currently a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Missouri, who conducted the research with other psychological scientists while at Dartmouth College.
"However, there is a correlation between the two. Sensation seeking, or the tendency to seek more novel and intense sexual stimulation, does seem to increase in young people who watched more movies with sexually explicit content," O'Hara noted.
To conduct his study, O'Hara and his colleagues recruited 1,228 participants between 12 and 14 years of age. Each participant reported which movies they had seen out of randomly selected lists of 50 top-grossing films from 1998 to 2004. These films had previously been evaluated according to the amount of sexual content they contained.
Six years later, the participants were surveyed to find out how old they were when they became sexually active and how risky their sexual behavior might have been.
The results of the study found that adolescents who are exposed to more sexual content in movies start having sex at younger ages, have more sexual partners, and are less likely to use condoms with casual sexual partners.
"One important observation from our evaluation of the films was that few showed contraceptive use or safe sexual practices," O'Hara said.
"When safe sex is portrayed in films, it is often in comedies and is presented as an inconvenience or embarrassment. The motion picture industry could make an effort to show healthier, safer behaviours, just as they have reduced the amount of smoking shown in films," the researchers suggested.
The parents of adolescents have a role to play in tempering the influence of films on their children as well, O'Hara said.
To minimize risky sexual behaviour later in life, parents can restrict the amounts of sexual content children view and educate them about the consequences of sexual behaviour that are often left out of films.
Their findings will be published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. (ANI)
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