Effect of Media on Young People and Their Sex Lives

Kerianne Hermann Fifteen-year-old Kelly is just like every other sophomore in high school. She loves her friends, enjoys playing on her school’s lacrosse team and does her homework before she goes to be every night. Once the weekend comes and school is out, everything changes. She goes to a cool party hosted by a good-looking quarterback. She drinks, her friends are doing it so why not? Then all of her friends sneak off with boys. Kelly is alone, drunk and vulnerable. When the quarterback walks over and flirts with her she is elated.

When he suggests going to another room though, she is nervous, but she goes with him. She sees this happen all the time in movies, and her friends are doing it so how wrong could it be? When she’s home and alone with her own thoughts, she realizes the mistake she has made. Unfortunately this happens to many young girls everyday. All across America girls are being pressured by the media and their peers to have sex. Studies show that by the age of twenty, 75 percent of Americans have lost their virginity.

In many high schools – and an increasing number of junior highs- virginity is regarded as an embarrassing vestige of childhood, to be disposed of as quickly as possible. (Garity 768-771). Peer pressure is something everyone has to deal with at some point in their life. It can influence the way you dress, the music you listen to, what clubs you join, and even your choices regarding sex. “The American Public Health Association,” reports Psychology Today, “did a study and found that one of the biggest reasons that teenagers have sex is because they think their peers are also having sex”. Family). Many girls, young and old, are pressured by peers. Girls think because everyone else is doing it, they should do it too. “[A factor] I think, is that very little in our culture encourages independent thinking” says Steve Lopez. (776-778) High school girls are very prone to succumbing to peer pressure. They want to be liked, they want to feel cool, and they’ll do whatever it takes to have everyone know their name, even if it goes against their morals.

To most girls now, sex isn’t something to do with someone who loves and respects you, it’s something to do so a boy will like you. If only for a night. “It’s not just television that scares me,” says Steve Lopez, “It’s the internet, pop music, radio, advertising. The most lurid elements of each medium now dominate pop culture, and the incessant, pounding message, directed primarily at young people, is that it’s all about sex. ” (776-778) The media has been influencing young people’s choices since advertisers realized how naive young people can be.

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When girls look at an ad for the clothing store Hollister, all they see are half-naked beautiful people having the times of their lives and they think that’s reality. It most certainly is not. “I’ve lived long enough to know that what I see is a marketing technique,” explains Joyce Garity, “A moment after the photo session was over, the beautiful room was dismantled, and the models moved onto their next job. Later, the technicians took over the task of doctoring the photograph until it reached full-blown fantasy proportions. (768-771). The media glorifies teen sex. Take a look at teen mom, these girls are praised for getting pregnant at sixteen years old, they got a lot of money and fame out of it. Why wouldn’t other girls want to do the same thing? According to the American Social Health Association, “Teenagers that watch sexual content in the media are more likely to overestimate the amount of sex their friends and acquaintances are having. They are also more likely to feel permissive of sexual activity and multiple partners. (Family) The media will forever influence people’s thoughts on things to buy, things to wear, how to act and every other social aspect of life. Girls need to be taught that this is not reality. It’s a fake world and what they don’t show you are the consequences of these actions. Nothing is perfect, there is no “utopia” that exists, these things may look fun and carefree but they have consequences. Joyce Garity asked a young girl Elaine, who was pregnant and living in her home, why she never used birth control. Elaine blushed and stammered. “Birth control,” she finally got out “was ‘embarrassing’.

It wasn’t ‘romantic’. You couldn’t be really passionate,” she explained “and worry about birth control at the same time. ” (Garity 768-771) Girls see the basic side of sex, which is essentially, just sex. What they don’t think about is unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, like AIDS which is fatal. They definitely don’t think about the brutality of rape. Gail Abarbanel, director of the Rape Treatment Center in Santa Monica, California says 50% of rape victims are eighteen or younger, and the rapists are acquaintences 80% of the time. Lopez 776-778). Girls are having sex and they think that “it wont happen to them” but it most certainly will if they don’t take the right precautions. Young people need to be educated about the dangers of unprotected sex before something bad happens to them. The best defense against STDs is knowledge. “Studies have shown that teenagers who are equipped with the education they need to protect themselves are more likely to engage in protective behaviors during sex. ” (Family).

The point of being educated about sex isn’t to scare people away from it, or mark it as forbidden, but to make sure teenagers know everything before they make their decision on whether or not to engage in sexual activity. If a person can think independently for themselves, they can make the right decisions for who they are. Teenagers are so heavily influence by the media and their peers that they forget they can do this. Teen sex isn’t the problem, a lack of education is. Teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases are a growing epidemic in this country.

The children today are our future, they need to know how to make the right decisions for themselves or they will never understand how big of a problem this is. Citations Lopez, Steve. “A Scary Time to Raise a Daughter. ” College Writing Skills With Readings. Ed. John Langan. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010. 776-778. Print. Garity, Joyce. “Is Sex All That Matters? ” College Writing Skills With Readings. Ed. John Langan. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010. 768-771. Print. “Sexually Active Teens – Teen Sex Facts and Teen Sex Talk. ” Family First Aid. 2000-2004. 24 October 2011.

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