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TV habits lead to risky behaviour

Groundbreaking research suggests that pregnancy rates are much higher among teens who watch a lot of TV with sexual dialogue and behaviour, such as Sex in the City, compared with those who have tamer viewing tastes. Teens who watched the raciest shows were twice as likely to become pregnant over the next three years as those who watched few such programs. Previous research had already found that watching lots of sex on TV can influence teens to have sex at earlier ages. Shows that only highlight the positive aspects of sexual behaviour without the risks can lead teens to have unprotected sex “before they’re ready to make responsible and informed decisions,” said lead author Anita Chandra, a Rand Corp behavioural scientist. The study, published in Pediatrics, involved interviews with 2000 12 to 17 year olds about their TV viewing habits in 2001. Teens were re-interviewed twice, the last time in 2004, and asked about pregnancy. Among girls, 58 became pregnant during the follow-up, and among boys, 33 said they had got a girl pregnant. Chandra said TV watching was strongly connected with teen pregnancy even when other factors were considered, including grades, family structure and parents’ education level.

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