Monday, August 20, 2012

Media’s Sexual Terrorism Harmful to Families

The recent shooting massacres in Colorado and Wisconsin have again focused attention on the hundreds of thousands of studies on the links between violence in the media to acts of violence in society. The results have overwhelmingly showed that violence in media does influence people’s attitudes and behavior, even more so if it’s children and adolescents exposed to heavy violence in media.
Even so, this posits another question: Can the same thing be said for sexuality in movies?
Sexuality outside of marriage is not only common in America, but is celebrated and encouraged among society’s youth. This has caused increases in pornography, sexually transmitted diseases, abortion, and high divorce rates that are actively hurting families. Is this a result of media indoctrination? Does the sexuality in movies really have that much to do with the increase in sexual behavior in adolescents?
Some studies in the past have strongly suggested that, yes, sexuality in the media does shape hearts, minds and behaviors. Dartmouth College recently conducted a large survey to examine the influence of MSE movie sexual exposure (MSE) on youths before the age of 16 and how it affects them in adulthood. The college started by researching the amount of sexuality that popular movies contain. The study revealed that 84 percent of movies released between 1950 and 2006 had some form of sexual content.
“A content analysis revealed that 70 percent of the sexual acts depicted in movies released from 1983 to 2003 occurred between newly acquainted partners, 98 percent included no reference to contraception and 89 percent resulted in no consequences,” the study said (Gunasekera, Chapman, & Campbell, 2005).
The study continued, “Adolescents who watch popular movies, therefore, are exposed to a great deal of sex, most of which is portrayed in an unrealistic and/or risk-promoting manner.”
Armed with this information, the Dartmouth researchers surveyed more than 6,000 adolescents from 2007 to 2012. The research team asked youth between the ages of 10 and 14 which movies from a random list of 50 they had seen. Approximately five to seven years later, the same individuals were asked at what age they became sexually active and how many partners they had. After calculating the amount of sexual content in the top 684 movies, they had some results.
The survey results, as predicted, showed that higher MSE before the age of 16 resulted in a “higher number of lifetime sexual partners and more casual sex” (e.g., Brown et al., 2006). Evidence also suggests that sexual behavior among adolescents is influenced more by movies over other forms of media (television, music videos, etc.). The study also revealed that males with MSE are more susceptible than females to risky sexual behavior. Many participants even admitted to copying love scenes depicted in movies in real life (The Telegraph, 07/08/12).


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