Television viewing and risk of sexual initiation by young adolescents (RESEARCH)

Posted on September 10, 2013, in Children, Indecency, Research, Teens

Publication Information

Title: Television viewing and risk of sexual initiation by young adolescents
Publication: Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine
Author: Sarah L. Ashby, MD, MS; Christine M. Arcari, PhD, MPH; M. Bruce Edmonson, MD, MPH
Date:

ABSTRACT

Objective   To determine if television viewing is associated with the risk of initiating sexual intercourse in young adolescents.

Design   Secondary analysis of data obtained from 1994 through 1996.

Setting   The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.

Participants   The 4808 students younger than 16 years who had not initiated intercourse before baseline interview.

Exposures   Primary exposure was self-reported daily television watching, categorized as low (<2 hours) or high (≥2 hours) use. Secondary exposure was parental regulation of television programming watched.

Main Outcome Measure   Odds ratio for initiating intercourse by 1-year follow-up, adjusted for potential confounders.

Results   At baseline, 2414 (48.8%) subjects watched television 2 or more hours per day. By 1-year follow-up, 791 (15.6%) subjects had initiated intercourse. Sexual initiation was associated with high television use (adjusted odds ratio, 1.35; 95% confidence interval, 1.01-1.79) and lack of parental regulation of television programming (adjusted odds ratio, 1.35; 95% confidence interval, 1.01-1.80). Most subjects (73.8%) reported strong parental disapproval of sex; their overall rate of initiation was 12.5%, and their risk was independently associated with high television use (adjusted odds ratio, 1.72; 95% confidence interval, 1.24-2.40) and lack of parental regulation of television programming (adjusted odds ratio, 1.35; 95% confidence interval, 1.01-1.81). Among adolescents who did not report strong parental disapproval, the rate of sexual initiation was higher (24.1%) but unrelated to television use.

Conclusion   Among young adolescents who reported strong parental disapproval of sex, watching television 2 or more hours per day and lack of parental regulation of television programming were each associated with increased risk of initiating sexual intercourse within a year.

Initiation of sexual intercourse by younger adolescents is associated with risky sexual behaviors and increases the risk of multiple partners, unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and pelvic inflammatory disease.1– 5 Several predictors of sexual intercourse during early adolescent years have been identified. These predictors include early puberty, poor self-esteem, depression, poor academic performance, being less religious, low parental education, lack of attentive and nurturing parents, and cultural and family patterns of early sexual experience.6– 12 Exposure to television is another proposed factor.13– 14 Although television watching appears to be useful in predicting certain behaviors, most notably violent behavior,15 it is less clear whether television watching is linked to sexual behavior.

Survey research results demonstrate that television programming watched by adolescents contains high levels of sexual content, includes little information about sexual risks, and is an important source of information about sex for adolescents.16– 18 Results of a 2005 Kaiser Family Foundation survey showed that the mean amount of television watched per day was more than 3 hours for teens aged 11 to 14 years and about 2.5 hours for those aged 15 to 18 years.19 Content analysis demonstrates that 70% of the programs favored by teenagers include sexual content.18 Moreover, adolescents aged 13 to 15 years rank entertainment media as their leading source of information about sexuality and sexual health.16 Almost 75% of 15- to 17-year-olds believe that sexual content on television influences the behavior of their peers “somewhat” or “a lot.”17

As recently reviewed by Escobar-Chaves et al,14 few studies have directly addressed the question of whether adolescent exposure to television affects sexual behavior, and only 2 have been based on longitudinal data.20– 21 Peterson et al21 found some evidence for a relationship between amount of television viewed and sexual experience in certain subgroups of adolescents. In the other study, Collins et al20 found that viewing more sexual content on television was associated with an increased 1-year risk of sexual initiation.

We performed a secondary analysis of longitudinal data from a large nationally representative sample of adolescents to determine whether self-reported hours of television viewed was associated with initiation of sexual intercourse in young adolescents (aged <16 years) during the subsequent year. We also studied whether parental regulation of television programming was associated with risk of initiation. We hypothesized that adolescents would be more likely to initiate intercourse within 1 year if they (1) watched more television or (2) lacked a parental rule about television programming.

VIEW FULL ARTICLE HERE

 

Comments are closed.