Pediatricians, Parents Urged to Address Sexuality in the Media

Statement recommends ways to address youths' exposure to sex through commonly used media
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Aug. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Pediatricians and parents have the opportunity to help address unhealthy messages related to sexuality that young people receive from the media, according to a policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics published online Aug. 30 in Pediatrics.

According to the authors, children and teenagers spend more than seven hours daily engaged with different media, and sexual messages and images often reach children and teens through television, where more than 75 percent of prime-time shows contain sexual content. Music, movies, and magazines aimed at teens are common sources of sexual content; the Internet provides an abundance of pornography; and social networking Web sites offer opportunities for sexual references and displays, the authors write.

The Academy recommends that, during office visits, pediatricians ask how much time teens spend with entertainment media and whether they have a television or Internet access in their bedrooms. Pediatricians are also urged to press the broadcast industry to air birth control advertisements, and restrict advertisements for erectile dysfunction drugs to after 10 p.m. The authors also recommend that parents keep televisions and the Internet out of their children's rooms, restrict children from seeing inappropriate R- or PG-13-rated movies, and understand how social networking sites work.

"Pediatricians should urge schools to insist on comprehensive sex education programs (to counter the influence of sexually suggestive and explicit media) that incorporate basic principles of media literacy into their sex education programs. Studies have shown that effective media literacy programs can be protective against unhealthy media effects," the authors write.

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