Is television corrupting American youth?

Television was introduced to the public in the 1930s. Since it debuted, the TV has been a permanent fixture in homes throughout America. Although the need for TV has not changed, standards for the shows that air have. When television first came on the scene, there were strict regulations about what was appropriate. Those restrictions have changed over the years and today there is a major concern that the shows deemed appropriate are encouraging negative behavior among teens.

There was a time when shows were not allowed to show a married couple sleeping in the same bed. For example, “I Love Lucy,” which debuted in 1951, had two double beds in Lucy and Ricky’s bedroom; and when Lucille Ball became pregnant, CBS did not allow the show to use the word “pregnant.” Instead, they had to say she was “expecting” or “with child.”

Today, you are hard-pressed to find something on TV that does not have gratuitous sex or gratuitous violence. The most popular shows amid teenagers today are the ones that incorporate sex, drugs and alcohol into their storylines. A survey done by FOX News in 2005 showed that teens now see an average of six sexual scenes per hour in primetime television. The same study was done in 2002 and it showed that the number of sexual scenes watched then was dramatically less than today.

One of the most popular shows on television is “Sex and the City.” Although it is now off the air, it still remains very popular among teenagers. This show debuted in 1998; it was one of the first programs that openly discussed sex and showed very realistic love scenes. Associated Press performed a study in 2008 that showed teens who watched racier shows, such as “Sex and the City,” were twice as likely to become pregnant.

Parents are worried that television is encouraging their kids to make bad choices. Michelle Hadaway is a mother of a 14 year old, a nine year old and a five year old. She is extremely worried that shows on TV are going to impact her children negatively. “I worry about what is on TV today. These shows glamorize sex. They make it seem like it’s the cool thing to do; they don’t show all of the negative consequences that go along with sex.”

Another mother, Kathy Farina, worries that no matter how hard she tries, she won’t be able to stop her three young children from seeing a show they shouldn’t. “I use the parental controls on the TV, but I know that isn’t a real solution. I work full time; I can’t be with them every second of the day. I know that they are going to be influenced by what is on television right now and it scares me to death. I don’t want my son to come home at age 15 and tell me I am going to be a grandmother.”

Television is a permanent part of society, however children and teens are easily influenced and that’s what is worrying parents. Yes, sex sells and if it was only being sold to adults there wouldn’t be a problem. But when kids and teenagers are being influenced and encouraged to have sex, drink, and do drugs there is cause for concern. Parents have the right to protect their children from whatever they deem harmful; and that includes television.

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