Miley Cyrus put on a show that sells—sex. If you read my recent blog on teenage sexuality, you won’t wonder why your teen or tween is interested in sexual experimentation. The question arises—Is this appropriate? What is the impact of exposure to these images? Is this healthy or unhealthy? What is the message to kids? Rest assured, adults aren’t watching music videos. This medium is for kids.
Ironically, Miley was the former “Hannah Montana” star on the Disney channel–from teddy bears to sexy bears.
Interestingly, the relationship between exposure to sexual behavior in the media and adolescent sexual activity has not been definitively supported by research studies. What scientists have determined is that children are spending more time watching television and viewing media of all kinds and that there is an increasing quantity of sexual activity in the media. In the Journal Pediatrics (Vol 116, No. 1, July 2005) Michael Rich M.D. notes that the few studies that have been conducted indicate that “greater exposure to sexual content in media is associated with more permissive attitudes towards sexual activity, higher estimates of the sexual experience and activity of peers, and more and earlier sexual behavior among adolescents.” Clearly, there is a need for more research on this subject but, these results are ominous.
In the meantime, communities and parents need to think about what images they want their kids to view. In my opinion, just as our bodies are impacted by what we eat, our minds are influenced by what we see, watch, and view. It may be more subtle and hard to measure, but it is there.
As parents, we have to make the hard decisions about what we want our kids to watch. Teens and tweens will always push this limit and tell you—“All my friend’s parents let their kids watch—(fill in the blank).” Of course, that is rarely true. Kids are so influenced by peer pressure; they presume that adults are equally influenced.
In my view it is appropriate for parents to limit the amount of time that kids view media (TV, computer, internet, social media, etc) and what they watch. Parents can vote with their remotes. Advertisers will respond. When sex and violence stops selling—advertisers won’t subsidize content that we don’t want our children to view.
What do you think?