The results of this study provides me with an opportunity to encourage parents to be proactive in establishing limits on what television programs their young children watch. It's wise to remember that television has the power to influence, both positively and negatively.
The younger children are exposed to content intended for adults in television and movies, the earlier they become sexually active during adolescence, according to a new study released by Children's Hospital Boston.
The longitudinal study consisted of 754 children between ages 6 and 18. Researchers tracked the participants at two stages: once during childhood and again five years later between ages 12 to 18 to see how much adult television they were watching on a sample weekday and sample weekend day. The participants' onset of sexual activity was then followed during the second stage.
The study found that for every hour the youngest group of children watched adult-targeted content over the two sample days, their chances of having sex during early adolescence increased by 33 percent.
"Television and movies are among the leading sources of information about sex and relationships for adolescents," says the study's lead author Dr. Hernan Delgado, a fellow in the Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine at Children's Hospital Boston. "Our research shows that their sexual attitudes and expectations are influenced much earlier in life."
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