TV Sex

March 11, 1999

As hard as it might be for teenagers to believe, there was a time when television shows didn't deal with sex. Not anymore. According to a major new study of sex on TV, over half of all programming contains sexual content. And when you limit the study to prime time, that percentage is over two-thirds.

The research, sponsored by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and conducted by the University of California-Santa Barbara, is the most comprehensive study of sex on TV ever published. While children's programs, sports, and newscasts were excluded from the study, they found that all other programs were filled with sexual themes, images and references.

And while it was good to exclude children's programming, we should remind ourselves that children don't just sit down and watch programs made for them. They unfortunately partake of other programs that have the 67 percent sexual fare. And that is a major problem. Children used to grow up in a world of innocence where they weren't exposed to sex, violence, and profanity. Television is the great equalizer of age groups. Young children confront a level of sexuality on TV that would make most adults blush if they weren't already desensitized by years of watching television.

One of the major reasons for increasing levels of sexuality on TV is competition. Not only are the major networks competing with each other; they are competing with cable which tends to be more sexually explicit. One strategy would be to out-cable cable. A better strategy would be to return to wholesome values. So I guess it isn't so surprising that some executives have been saying they want to move the pendulum back toward traditional families.

I certainly hope they do. This latest report reminds us all how sensual television has become in just the last few years.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.