Teen scene: Sex scenes between Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in the Twilight movies could lead to teenage viewers having sex younger.
Watching sex scenes in movies can make children more sexually active from a younger age, research suggests.
Whether it’s Leonardo Dicaprio and Kate Winslet making love on the Titanic or Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart cuddling in bed on their vampire honeymoon in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, teenagers watching sex scenes have an increased curiosity for sex.
Watching sex on screen could lead to teenagers having more sex with more partners and without using condoms, researcher Ross O’Hara from the University of Missouri said.
Take more risks: Watching sex on screen can influence a child's personality and make them more prone to take risks.
The scenes can 'fundamentally influence a teenager's personality’ and make them more prone to take risks he said.
Dr O'Hara said: ‘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.
While there’s been much research into the influence of drinking and smoking in movies, sex scenes has been overlooked.
Dr O’Hara said: ‘Much research has shown that adolescents’ sexual attitudes and behaviours are influenced by media.
'Sexual scripts': Teenagers look to films to work out how to behave in complex situations and don't differentiate between what's on the screen and daily life.
‘But the role of movies has been somewhat neglected, despite other findings that movies are more influential than TV or music.’
Psychologists studied children aged 12 to 14 and then reviewed their sexual behaviour six years on.The research, published in Psychological Science, followed 1,228 children over the six year period.
HOW MUCH SEXUAL CONTENT IS IN MOVIES
Dr O’Hara said adolescents often have a predisposition for ‘sensation seeking’ behaviour, which peaks between the ages of ten and 15, and leads to a tendency to seek more novel and intense stimulation of all kinds.
His team found that greater exposure to sexual content in movies at a young age actually led to a higher peak in sensation seeking during adolescence.
The sensation seeking behaviour could last well into the late teens and early twenties if young people were exposed to movie sex scenes Dr O’Hara said.
He said: ‘These movies appear to fundamentally influence their personality through changes in sensation seeking, which has far reaching implications for all of their risk taking behaviours.’
Teenagers could also learn ‘sexual scripts’ from the films, using them as examples of how to behave when confronted with complex emotional situations.
Restricted viewing: While movies like Titanic seem harmless, with scenes like this one between Leonardo Dicaprio and Kate Winslet, parents must restrict their children's viewing.
Given that for 57 per cent of American adolescents between the ages of 14 and 16, the media is their greatest source of sexual information, they often don’t differentiate between what they see on the screen and what they must confront in daily life, Dr O’Hara said.
The researchers also looked at 684 high grossing films and analysed them for sexual content, such as heavy kissing or actual sex.
Most of the recent films did not portray safe sex, with little mention of using contraception.
Each teenager identified which movies they had seen from a list of 50, randomly selected.
Six years later the teenagers were surveyed to find out how old they were when they became sexually active and how risky their sexual behaviour might have been.
They were also asked if they used condoms consistently and whether they had multiple sexual partners.
The findings revealed the link between exposure to sex on screen and sexual behaviour.
Dr O'Hara said: ‘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.’
Culled from The Daily Mail UK.