When I was in kindergarten, our teacher often played a game with us: Monkey See, Monkey Do! She would do something and we would imitate it. Unfortunately kids today are still playing this game as they imitate the sexual behavior found in movies.

As reported in an article entitled Children exposed to sex on screen ‘go on to be promiscuous’ in MailOnline, a 6 year study done by researchers from Dartmouth College found that kids who watch more sex on the screen as youngsters go on to become sexually promiscuous in their teen years.

Here’s how they got there.

Over 1200 kids between the ages of 12 and 14 were asked which movies they had seen from a list of top-grossing films between 1998 and 2004. Each of these movies had been rated for sexual content. Six years later these same kids were surveyed to find out how old they were when they became sexually active and how risky their sexual behavior had been.

Dr. Ross O’Hara, lead researcher, concluded,

“Adolescents who are exposed to more sexual content in movies start having sex at younger ages, have more sexual partners, and are less likely to use condoms with casual sexual partners.”

It turns out that kids between the ages of 10 and 15 have a “sensation-seeking” personality trait that peaks during this time and causes them to seek out more intense and novel stimulation of all kinds. According to Dr. O’Hara, greater exposure to sexual content in movies at a young age actually leads to a higher peak in “sensation-seeking” during adolescence.

Hmmmm…

Add this to the fact that their judgment center (the pre-frontal cortex) is not fully developed until their early to mid-20’s, and we’ve got big problems.

Dr. O’Hara gives this advice: “This study, and its confluence with other work, strongly suggests that parents need to restrict their children from seeing sexual content in movies at young ages.”

I know one family who had this rule in their home: they only watched movies that were appropriate for the youngest member of the family. It’s kind of like the hiking rule where you only hike as fast as the slowest hiker can go.

As the evidence mounts that media is adversely influencing the brain development and behavior of our kids, it makes sense to do our best to allow kids to be kids and screen them from as much sexually explicit media as possible.

Kristen Jenson
Kristen A. Jenson is the founder of Protect Young Minds and author of Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today's Young Kids. Kristen enjoys speaking, writing and anything else that will help empower kids to reject pornography. Kristen earned a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, and a master’s degree in Organizational Communication. Kristen currently lives with her husband in Washington State, where she enjoys growing a vegetable garden, watching Masterpiece Theater, and taking long walks with friends who tolerate her incessant talking about you know what. Above all else, her husband and three children are her greatest treasures.
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