Groundbreaking research suggests that pregnancy rates are much higher among teens who watch a lot of TV with sexual dialogue and behaviour compared with those who have tamer viewing tastes.
Sex and the City, anyone? That was one of the shows used in the research. The new study is the first to link those viewing habits with teen pregnancy, said lead author Anita Chandra, a Rand Corp. Behavioural scientist. Teens who watched the
raciest shows were twice as likely to become pregnant over the next three years as those who watched few such programmes.
Previous research by some of the same scientists had already found that watching lots of sex on TV can influence teens to have sex at earlier ages.
Shows that only highlight the positive aspects of sexual behaviour without the risks can lead teens to have unprotected sex “before they’re ready to make responsible and informed decisions,” Chandra said.
The study was released in the November issue of Pediatrics. It involved 2,003 12- to 17-year-old girls and boys nationwide questioned by telephone about their TV viewing habits in 2001. Teens were re-interviewed twice, the last time in 2004, and asked about pregnancy. Among girls, 58 became pregnant during the follow-up, and among boys, 33 said they had gotten a girl
Participants were asked how often they watched any of more than 20 TV shows popular among teens at the time or which were found to have lots of sexual content. These included Sex and the City, That 70s Show and Friends.