This research study, published in the journal Pediatrics, uses data from a national longitudinal sample of youths to look at whether there is a possible connection between exposure to sex on television and adolescent pregnancy. A previous study by Collins et al. found a relationship between exposure to sex on television and earlier initiation of sex among adolescents and this study is a follow-up and extension of that study.
Data for this survey were from a longitudinal survey of youths ages 12-17 years old. The youths were first interviewed in 2001 and then were contacted twice in 2002 and 2004 for follow-up surveys. They survey measured factors such as television viewing, exposure to sexual content on television, sexual knowledge, attitudes and behaviors, and whether he or she has gotten a girl pregnant or become pregnant.
The study found that “adolescents who view substantial televised sexual content have an increased risk of experiencing a pregnancy before age 20, compared with youths who view less sexual content on television” (Chandra et al. 1052). The study reinforces the importance of encouraging industry leaders of the media to include televised messages about the consequences youths face when engaging in sexual activity and also the importance of educating pediatricians about the effects of television on child and adolescent health.
Chandra, A., Martino, S.C., Collins, R.L., Elliott, M.N., Berry, S.B., Kanouse, D.E. and Miu, A. Does Watching Sex on Television Predict Teen Pregnancy? Findings From a National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. (2008). Pediatrics. 122:1047.