Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Teenagers 'can be corrupted' by Hollywood sex scenes

Teenagers 'can be corrupted' by Hollywood sex scenes

Watching sex scenes in Hollywood films can make children more promiscuous and sexually active from a younger age, a new study has suggested.

By Andrew Hough July 18, 2012 for

Psychologists concluded that teenagers exposed to more sex on screen in popular films are likely to have sexual relations with more people and without using condoms.

The study, based on nearly 700 popular films, found that watching love scenes could "fundamentally influence" a teenager's personality.
The researchers, from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, concluded youngsters were more prone to take risks in their future relationships.

They also concluded that for every hour of exposure to sexual content on-screen, participants were more than five times more likely to lose their virginity within six years.

"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," said Dr Ross O'Hara, who led the study.

"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."

The team, reporting in Psychological Science, studied 1228 children aged between 12 and 14 and then analysed their sexual behaviour six years later.
Each teenager identified which popular films of differing classifications they had seen from a random list of 50.

Six years later they were asked how old they were when they became sexually active, how many partners they had, how risky their sexual behaviour was and whether they used condoms.

The findings provided a link between exposure to sex on screen and sexual behaviour. Participants also said they tried to mimic love scenes they had seen on screen in the real world.

The researchers also assessed the sexual content of 684 of the biggest grossing films released between 1998 and 2004.

They found some of the most popular films from that time included scenes of a sexual nature, ranging from sexual scenes to heavy kissing. These include Austin Powers, staring Mike Myers, Notting Hill, with Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant, American Beauty, staring Kevin Spacey and James Bond films such as The World is Not Enough, with Pierce Brosnan as 007.

More than a third of G-rated movies were found to contain "sexual content" compared to more than half of PG films and four in five R-rated movies.

Films with the most sexual content were Summer of Sam, a Spike Lee crime film about a series of 1970s murders in New York (323 seconds), 40 Days of 40 Nights, staring Josh Hartnett who tries to stay celibate during Lent (207 seconds) and American Pie, about a group of high school students trying to lose their virginity (206 seconds).

Even children’s films were found to have sexual content such the G-rated the Princess Diaries (42 seconds).

Most of the recent films did not portray safe sex, with little mention of using contraception.

Dr O'Hara said that the combination of sexually explicit films and adolescence had a profound impact on their behavior.

He found that the “wild hormonal surges of adolescence” made cautious thinking amongst teenagers more difficult.

He said that while more than half of adolescents use movies and the media as their “greatest source of sexual information” many could not differentiate between what they saw on a screen and what they confronted in real life. 

Dr O'Hara added: “These movies appear to fundamentally influence their personality through changes in sensation-seeking, which has far-reaching implications for all of their risk-taking behaviors.”

A previous survey of films from 1950 to 2006 found that 84 per cent of movies contain sexual content.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Is the Internet Making Us Crazy?

In his Newsweek cover story from July 16, 2012 titled "Tweets. Texts. Email. Posts. Is the Onslaught Making Us Crazy?" Tony Dokoupil makes some insightful observations.
This article is not something written by some  "right wing religious nut" like me, but it takes a rational in-depth look at our society as it adapts to the electronic media. 
Dokoupil's article makes some seemingly "off the wall" statements then supports them with facts.  I believe this article could be the most important article on technology you can read because it is so insightful, easy to read, and has a number of practical "take aways" for parents.  My three favorite are:
  1. Be mindful of the time you are online.  Go on with a goal, accomplish it, and get off.  This will keep you from idling away hours of time.   
  2. Choose face to face conversation whenever possible.  
  3. Model good behavior to your kids.  No phones at dinner table, etc.  As parents we can't be addicted to this technology, we have to model good behavior.  
Just a few of the many keen insights from the article are:
  • "More than a third of users get online before getting out of bed. Meanwhile, texting has become like blinking." 
  • But the research is now making it clear that the Internet is not “just” another delivery system. It is creating a whole new mental environment, a digital state of nature where the human mind becomes a spinning instrument panel, and few people will survive unscathed. 
  • “We could create the most wonderful world for our kids but that’s not going to happen if we’re in denial and people sleepwalk into these technologies and end up glassy-eyed zombies.”
  • The brains of Internet addicts, it turns out, look like the brains of drug and alcohol addicts. In a study published in January, Chinese researchers found 'abnormal white matter'—essentially extra nerve cells built for speed—in the areas charged with attention, control, and executive function. 
  • A parallel study found similar changes in the brains of videogame addicts. And both studies come on the heels of other Chinese results that link Internet addiction to 'structural abnormalities in gray matter,' namely shrinkage of 10 to 20 percent in the area of the brain responsible for processing of speech, memory, motor control, emo tion, sensory, and other information. 
  • And worse, the shrinkage never stopped: the more time online, the more the brain showed signs of 'atrophy.' … And don't kid yourself: the gap between an 'Internet addict' and John Q. Public is thin to nonexistent."

It is worth your time to read this very informative article.  I encourage every parent to read this complete article.  The electronic world is not going away, so learn how to set wise guidelines.  Or as the tile indicates, you just might go crazy.  

How to Set Rules Without Looking Like a Control Freak

How to set rules without looking like a control freak.
Recently I was stuck without a babysitter when an important event came up. I reached out to friends on Facebook, and someone was generous enough to watch my kids at the last minute. But when I picked them up, I found out that they'd spent the entire time watching movies and playing video games.
I don't have a problem with a movie or video game here and there, but I've found that too much of either makes my kids a little nutty. And some of the movies they'd watched at my friend's house made me feel uncomfortable, too.
I left feeling conflicted. I was grateful to my friend for helping me out but sort of upset that she hadn't checked in with me about what kinds of movies were OK or how much time they could spend playing video games. Ultimately, I realized that my kids were fine (if a little antsy) and that by dropping them off at someone else's house -- whether it be for a play date, a sleepover, or a last-minute babysitting arrangement -- I had to give up a little control.
But I also realized that I needed to figure out how to talk to other parents about what I am and am not OK with when it comes to media. Without these conversations, the movies and games on play dates can easily spiral into age-inappropriate territory or far exceed the amount I'm comfortable with. While I initially thought these would be difficult topics to bring up -- and I was afraid of coming off as pushy or judgmental -- I've found that most parents are really open to having these discussions. After all, I'm not the only one who cares about this stuff.
Here are my tips for making that conversation go smoothly:
Be open. When a parent drops off their child at your house, let them know what your kids plan to do -- name any movies or video games they plan to play (and make sure the other parent knows you have age-appropriate options). This signals that you're open to talking about media use and that you think sharing information with each other is important.
Start the conversation. When you're arranging a play date for your kid at a friend's house, talk about planned activities. You can ask, "Do you think they'll watch a movie?" Or, "Is Jimmy into video games these days?" This will give you an idea of what to expect and whether you need to take the conversation further.
Give the heads up. If you have specific no-nos or even just some general preferences, you can broach the subject the same way you might deal with a food allergy. Something like: "Just wanted to let you know that Lilly is super sensitive to scary TV and movies. Please don't let her watch anything even remotely frightening." Blame yourself if necessary. Say: "I'm not ready for Darryl to get into YouTube yet."
Air major concerns. If any red flags come up in your initial chat ("Our kindergartner lovesGrand Theft Auto!"), decide whether you need to change plans, or let the other parent know very clearly what is and isn't OK for your kid. This isn't the time to be vague; just say, "I'm not comfortable with my kid playing or watching T- or M-rated games. Will they be able to play with something else instead?"
Clean up the mess. If your kid ends up seeing or playing something inappropriate while at a friend's house, mention it to the parent before any future plans are made. Unless it's an egregious situation, a casual conversation will probably do the trick: "Hey, just wanted to mention that Carla had some pretty bad dreams after she watched Harry Potter 3 at your house last week. Can we stick with G-rated movies for now?" Most parents take their role as caregivers for your kid seriously and will be glad you spoke up.
Let it go. Surrender to the idea that the situation is temporary. Sure, you might have to deal with some aftermath if your kid sees something he's not prepared for, but he'll get over it, and one day when he's in middle school, you can laugh about it.
Related tags