CHICAGO, September 7, 2004 ( – Teens who view television programs containing a lot of sexual content are twice as likely to become involved sexually at a younger age than teens who watched less, a new study published Tuesday revealed.

The survey asked 1,792 teens aged 12 to 17 about their television viewing habits and about their sexual activity, repeating the survey a year later. The study was published in the September issue of the American Academy of Pediatrics journal, Pediatrics.  Lead researcher, psychologist Rebecca Collins, told Reuters news, “This is the strongest evidence yet that the sexual content of television programs encourages adolescents to initiate sexual intercourse and other sexual activities.”

If a show talks about sex, rather than reveal it explicitly, the outcome is just as pronounced. “Both affect adolescents’ perceptions of what is normal sexual behavior and propels their own sexual behavior,” Collins revealed.

Collins also noted how 12 year-olds who viewed large amounts of sexual content on TV behaved sexually more like kids two or three years older. “The advancement in sexual behavior we saw among kids who watched a lot of sexual television was striking,” she said.

Around two-thirds of TV shows depict sex in some way, according to earlier studies referred to by Collins’ group. The average teen watches three hours of television.  “The impact of television viewing is so large that even a moderate shift in the sexual content of adolescent TV watching could have a substantial effect on their sexual behavior,” Collins stated.  The study reflects what television advertisers have known for decades. Television viewing can cause major changes in viewers’ habits and thinking. Advertisers have therefore spent billions using the almost hypnotic electronic medium to draw people towards buying their products or services or to vote for their candidates or parties. Likewise, TV has been successfully used by others for social engineering and behaviour modification agendas, such as a greater openness to illicit sexual behaviour.  tv