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May 08, 2001 07:29am
X-Rated Movies Linked to Risky Sex Among Teens
Source: Reuters
by: Amy Norton

(NEW YORK, NY) -- X-rated movies and their sex-without-consequences plot lines may be linked to risky sexual behavior among teenagers, new research suggests.

While there has been much ado about media violence and its impact on young people, less attention has gone to whether sexually explicit material sways teens' behavior, according to Dr. Gina M. Wingood of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

In her team's study of 522 girls between the ages of 14 and 18, 30% said they had seen an X-rated movie in the past 3 months--a rate Wingood called ``really concerning.''

``We were just shocked,'' she said in an interview with Reuters Health. The investigators did not ask where the girls had seen the movies, but Wingood said the findings should serve as a warning to parents that, despite age restrictions, many teens have no trouble finding X-rated films.

But more concerning than the number of teens viewing such movies was the real-life sexual behavior linked to it, the study authors report in the May issue of Pediatrics.

Wingood's team found that girls who had seen X-rated movies were more likely to have multiple sex partners and to have sex more often. They were also more prone to look down on condom use and less likely to use birth control. ``Most important,'' the researchers note, these girls were 70% more likely to be infected with the sexually transmitted disease chlamydia.

These results do not show that viewing X-rated movies caused the girls to take on these sexual attitudes, Wingood said. It is possible, for instance, that teens with risky attitudes about sex are more likely than their peers to be drawn to pornography.

In addition, all of the girls in the study were black, and it is unclear whether the findings would apply to boys or to other racial and ethnic groups, the report indicates.

Still, Wingood pointed out, teenagers are more vulnerable than adults to having their sexual attitudes shaped by the media. ''It's possible they are modeling what they see in X-rated movies,'' she said.

X-rated movies are ``just one venue'' in which kids are exposed to sexually explicit images, she added. Her team is now looking at whether other sexually explicit media impacts teens' sexual behavior.SOURCE: Pediatrics

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