That’s the next question raised by religion newswriter David Briggs in his reporting on the negative impact of sexy and violent media on young adults’ religious values. Is this really a widespread concern? Are teens and 20-somethings widely exposed to this stuff?
The answer: Yes, they sure are.
In his columns on these issues, Briggs reports on studies showing that most college students do encounter pornography online, not a surprising finding. But what about younger-than-college-age teens? According to the National Studies of Youth and Religion’s widespread interviews in 2003 with teens aged 13 to 17, the vast majority of the young people in that age range said they were not looking at online pornography. The surveyed teens may have been truthful about that question—the researchers didn’t check these kids’ internet histories.
But—these teens certainly weren’t shy about admitting the prevalence of R-rated movies. Of the 13-to-17-year-old group studied by the Youth and Religion researchers, only 13 percent of these kids said they had seen no R-rated movies! Most of these teens told researchers they were regularly watching R-rated films.
That’s in sharp contrast with the clear indication of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) that “children under 17 are not allowed to attend R-rated motion pictures unaccompanied by a parent or legal guardian.” According to the MPAA, families are supposed to be researching films and only rarely allowing anyone under 17 to see these movies.
Obviously, that’s not the case.
David Briggs points out that further research is needed on this whole range of issues. Questions remain about the actual levels of consumption by young people in each age range—and whether the content is only questionable or is flatly pornographic. There are many questions yet to be answered. However, the data suggest so far that huge amounts of explicit media are being consumed by Americans from early teens through the early 20s.
What do you think of these findings?
Do they seem reasonable based on the lives of young people you know?
Are you concerned about this apparent trend?