High amount of TV among risk factors for early teen sex

November 26, 2008

Watching TV, having low self-esteem, and poor parent relationships are among the factors linked to having sex before the age of 15.

Watching TV, having low self-esteem, and poor parent relationships are among the factors linked to having sex before the age of 15.

The findings come from a study, published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, that included 273 adolescents ages 13 to 15. Fifteen percent of participants said they had experienced sexual activity.

For girls, increased television viewing, low self-esteem, poor parental relationships, living in a non-intact household, higher levels of externalizing behavior (ADHD symptomology), low academic achievement, and parents with low education levels were associated with earlier sexual activity.

For boys, advanced pubertal development, increased television viewing, higher rates of externalizing behaviors (ADHD and oppositional defiant disorder behaviors), and poor parental relationships were associated with earlier sexual activity.

The investigators recommended that in addition to teachers and counselors, efforts directed toward prevention of early teen sex might also include parents. They added that positive parental influence along with comprehensive education programs may increase effectiveness of such preventive measures.