Don’t blame media for teenagers’ sexual conduct

New York: The media neither contributes to the early initiation of sex among teenagers nor to their sexual conduct more generally, says a study, suggesting that parents must enlighten children on sex-related queries so that they do not wander in their quest for answers.

“Evidence for an association between media and sexual behaviour is minimal,” said study author Christopher Ferguson from Stetson University in the US.

Ferguson, who along with his team conducted a systematic analysis of 22 relevant studies related to teenagers’ sexual behaviour, added that parents and society in general shouldn’t shift the blame for young people’s sexual behaviour on what teenagers supposedly see and read in the media about intimate encounters.

“That is to say, when information from parents or schools are lacking, media may become the only source of information on sexuality,” Ferguson explained.

According to the study, published in the journal Psychiatric Quarterly, parents must be encouraged to discuss sexuality with their teenage kids, proper sex-education programmes must be implemented in schools and ways should be examined by which peer networks can be used to promote safe sex.

“The encouraging message from our results is that the media is unlikely to thwart parental efforts to socialise children should parents take the initiative to talk directly to their children about sex,” Ferguson said.