Television Viewing and Risk of Sexual Initiation by Young Adolescents

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2006 Apr;160(4):375-80. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.160.4.375.

Abstract

Objective: To determine if television viewing is associated with the risk of initiating sexual intercourse in young adolescents.

Design: Secondary analysis of data obtained from 1994 through 1996.

Setting: The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.

Participants: The 4808 students younger than 16 years who had not initiated intercourse before baseline interview.

Exposures: Primary exposure was self-reported daily television watching, categorized as low (< 2 hours) or high (> or =2 hours) use. Secondary exposure was parental regulation of television programming watched.

Main outcome measure: Odds ratio for initiating intercourse by 1-year follow-up, adjusted for potential confounders.

Results: At baseline, 2414 (48.8%) subjects watched television 2 or more hours per day. By 1-year follow-up, 791 (15.6%) subjects had initiated intercourse. Sexual initiation was associated with high television use (adjusted odds ratio, 1.35; 95% confidence interval, 1.01-1.79) and lack of parental regulation of television programming (adjusted odds ratio, 1.35; 95% confidence interval, 1.01-1.80). Most subjects (73.8%) reported strong parental disapproval of sex; their overall rate of initiation was 12.5%, and their risk was independently associated with high television use (adjusted odds ratio, 1.72; 95% confidence interval, 1.24-2.40) and lack of parental regulation of television programming (adjusted odds ratio, 1.35; 95% confidence interval, 1.01-1.81). Among adolescents who did not report strong parental disapproval, the rate of sexual initiation was higher (24.1%) but unrelated to television use.

Conclusion: Among young adolescents who reported strong parental disapproval of sex, watching television 2 or more hours per day and lack of parental regulation of television programming were each associated with increased risk of initiating sexual intercourse within a year.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Coitus*
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parenting
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Disclosure
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data
  • Television* / statistics & numerical data
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology