I’ve blogged about the subject countless times- the impact that sexualized media has on our kids, particularly our girls. And often I receive comments back, “Can’t we do something about this?”
Yes. Plenty. And most of it starts with what you can do in your own home. But some might also be interested in some national legislation that’s on the table.
The issue is this: today’s youth are bombarded with sexualized media content, and its consequences are unquestionable (Head up… I think today’s blog is going to break a record for the most hyperlinks. I’m going to bombard you with research and articles today). You see it every day in the top 10 songs at any given time, or from artist that know that sex sells, artist like Britney, Christina, and even Miley. Some researchers have actually labeled this phenomena, calling it “sexualization.” The American Psychological Association released a report titled, ‘The Sexualization of Girls,’ defining sexualization as “When a person’s value comes only from her/his sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics, and when a person is sexually objectified, e.g., made into a thing for another’s sexual use.” According to their research, the consequences of sexualization are detailed as “negative effects in a variety of domains, including cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, sexuality, and attitudes and beliefs.”
As parents and youth workers, we’ve seen these effects first hand. You have heard me talk about it, and hopefully even read the research firsthand. Even those not in contact with kids read the headlines and can’t avoid the fact that “1 in 4 teenager girls have an STD.”
Think about that for a second- especially those that think, “Oh, this is nothing new.” If you graduated in 1967- 1 in 32 teenagers had an STD. In 1983- 1 in 18 teenagers had an STD.
Today, it’s 1 in 4.
You’ve heard me rant about this numerous times and I always like to provide a “take-away,” something parents and youth workers can do about it (talking with your kids, watching media with your kids, establishing boundaries, etc.) This time I’m going to defer to Dr. Stephanie Smith from the APA website in her article, Raising Healthy Kids in a Sexualized Media World. Stephanie draws our attention to the impact of sexualization and links the national legislation on the table. I love her wrap up (here “take-away”) to parents– “tips for helping children manage what they see and hear and make healthy choices” (I want you to hear it from someone else for a change). Here they are in brief.
Check in on the shows your kids are watching; listen to the music they listen to; read the magazines they read.
Talk a Lot but Listen More
Instead of dominating the conversation talking about why you think something is right or wrong, let your kids take the lead. I am continually amazed at the insight and maturity many kids have about these topics – we just need to give them the opportunity to tell us!
Be the Teacher
You are still your child’s first and most important teacher and role model. Even if they don’t seem to be watching or listening to you – DON’T BE FOOLED – they are!
I encourage you to read her thoughts in entirety here.