The study by the Rand Corporation followed 2,000 kids between the ages of 12 and 17 for three years. It asked them about “their television viewing habits and sexual behavior.” The shows they reported watching were analyzed “to determine the frequency and type of sexual content the adolescents were exposed to during their TV viewing.”
The researchers found that adolescents with “high levels of exposure” to television shows containing “sexual content” were twice as likely to be “involved in a pregnancy” as those with less exposu
The researchers acknowledge, as social scientists do, that correlation isn’t causality. Watching television shows with “sexual content” didn’t cause kids to have sex and get pregnant. At least not by itself. As Anita Chandra, the lead author, said, “Television is just one part of a teenager’s media diet that helps to influence their behavior.”
The key word, you see, is “influence.” Teenagers are people, not robots, and they can’t be programmed. But their attitudes, values, and actions can be shaped by what they watch.
This seems obvious, but both the people who produce these kinds of shows as well as their audience, deny any connection. I guess that’s all they can do! The creator of the racy show Gossip Girl had the audacity to tell NPR that “teens were having sex and getting pregnant ‘long before there was even television.’” Talk about missing the point.