Tuesday, September 07, 2004
Teenagers who watch a lot of television with sexual content are twice as likely to engage in intercourse than those who watch few such programs, according to a study published on Tuesday.
The study covered 1,792 adolescents aged 12 to 17 who were quizzed on viewing habits and sexual activity and then surveyed again a year later. Both regular and cable television were included."
There coudn't be a better example of junk science. This study doesn't prove anything at all, because it's most likely that the cause and effect is being interepreted backwards.
One would expect that teenagers who are more interested in sex would be attracted to shows about sexual situations, while the geeky non-sexually mature teenagers are more interested in watching Star Trek. So this study proves absolutely nothing.
Now I certainly don't doubt the power of popular television to influence us. My biggest concern about the show Sex and the City is not that teenagers are being influenced by it, but that women between the ages for 20 and 40 are watching it and modelling their behavior after it!
Nevertheless, (1) we live in a free society, so adults can watch what they want. This show is only available on a pay cable channel or on DVD so if teenagers are watching it, it's with their parents' explicit or implicit blessing; and (2) teenagers watching that particular show are likely to have parents who are more laid back about regulating their morality and that's another reason why are more likely to "engage in intercourse."