Pediatricians should encourage these family discussions. In baseline and 1-year follow-up interviews, participants reported their TV viewing habits and sexual experience and responded to measures of more than a dozen factors known to be associated with adolescent sexual initiation. Reducing the amount of sexual content in entertainment programming, reducing adolescent exposure to this content, or increasing references to and depictions of possible negative consequences of sexual activity could appreciably delay the initiation of coital and noncoital activities. The American Academy of Pediatrics has suggested that portrayals of sex on entertainment television TV may contribute to precocious adolescent sex. TV viewing data were combined with the results of a scientific analysis of TV sexual content to derive measures of exposure to sexual content, depictions of sexual risks or safety, and depictions of sexual behavior versus talk about sex but no behavior. African American youths who watched more depictions of sexual risks or safety were less likely to initiate intercourse in the subsequent year. Exposure to TV that included only talk about sex was associated with the same risks as exposure to TV that depicted sexual behavior. Alternatively, parents may be able to reduce the effects of sexual content by watching TV with their teenaged children and discussing their own beliefs about sex and the behaviors portrayed. The size of the adjusted intercourse effect was such that youths in the 90th percentile of TV sex viewing had a predicted probability of intercourse initiation that was approximately double that of youths in the 10th percentile, for all ages studied.
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