According to a recent study, sexual content in movies results to teenagers having sex earlier and to have riskier sexual behavior. Researchers suggest that media literacy training should be part of sexual education.
The study is published in Psychological Science, which is a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. Researchers found out that 85 percent of movies released from 1950 to 2006 had sexual content. Only 9 percent of sexual content in movies have messages that promote sexual health. Sexual explicitness of PG-13 and R-rated movies increased over the past decade. The researchers said that adolescents’ sexual attitudes and behavior are influenced by movies than any other forms of media.
Richard Ross, professor of student ministry at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, said that allowing a middle school student to watch sex on the big screen is similar to allowing a toddler ride in the front seat without a seatbelt, standing up, at rush hour. Allen Jackson, director of the Youth Ministry Institute at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, said that it is similar to a pregnant woman consuming alcohol.
According to the study, adolescents want to watch sexual media. It found out that 57 percent of 14 to 16 year olds reported using media to learn sexual information. It examined the impact of movies on adolescent behavior. It looked at the role of the personality trait known as sensation seeking, which is the tendency to seek novel and intense stimulation. Experts agree that adolescents have a predisposition for sensation seeking behavior that peaks between ages of 10 and 15.
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health. It suggested that exposure to sexual content in movies can accelerate the normal increase in sensation seeking during adolescence and promote risky behavior. It can affect their risky sexual behaviors in adulthood.