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Be So Careful: How Sexual Content in Movies Hurts Kids

A 6-year study is soon-to-be published in Psychological Science about about how exposure to sexual content in popular movies affects kids.

I was not surprised to find that children who watch sexual content in movies tend to be more promiscuous. I’ve noticed something I call the MTV’s Spring Break phenomenon. People play out behavior they see on TV because they think it is normal and expected. This study discovered that adolescents do, in fact, act out sexual scripts from movies they have seen. The media is the main source of sexual information for 57% of American 14- to 16-year-olds.

Your feelings for Magic Mike are your own business. But do you want him teaching your son about the birds and the bees?

“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 researcher explained.

Interesting, but not too surprising to any mom with a lick of sense, right? But the study goes into further depth about how and why movies have these effects on adolescents.

Read how “sensation seeking” behavior is activated in teens.

How does watching a movie effect your tweens and teens?

These researchers examined the role of a personality trait known as sensation-seeking. One of the great dangers of adolescence, is the predisposition for “sensation seeking” behavior. Between the ages of ten and fifteen, the tendency to seek more novel and intense stimulation of all kinds peaks. The wild hormonal surges of adolescence makes judicious thinking a bit more difficult. . . .Greater exposure to sexual content in movies at a young age actually led to a higher peak in sensation seeking during adolescence.

As a result, sensation seeking sexual behavior can last well into the late teens and even into the early twenties if young people are exposed to these kinds of movies. But researchers point out that sexual exposure in movies tends to activate sensation seeking both because of biology and the way that boys and girls are socialized.

Movies can influence your child’s personality through changes in sensation seeking. This can have implications for all risk-taking behavior even when they are adults. We have to be so careful with our children. A thoughtful, measured approach and a lot of information will help you as your child grows and your concerns multiply.

Parenting is not for the faint of heart.

And while we are on the subject and since we are all adults, I encourage you to take a look at this TED talk. It’s got some adult content (not salacious) but I encourage you to watch it so you’ll know that the “boys will be boys” approach to internet pornography is doing real physical, social, and emotional damage to the men and boys in our lives.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSF82AwSDiU[/youtube]

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