A new study released this week ties teenage sexual behavior to TV watching habits. Boys and girls aged 12 to 17 were asked about their TV viewing habits and two followup studies tracked how many of the girls got pregnant and how many of the boys got a girl pregnant. The report states:
Participants were asked how often they watched any of more than 20 TV shows popular among teens at the time or which were found to have lots of sexual content. The programs included “Sex and the City,” “That ’70s Show” and “Friends.”
Pregnancies were twice as common among those who said they watched such shows regularly, compared with teens who said they hardly ever saw them. There were more pregnancies among the oldest teens interviewed, but the rate of pregnancy remained consistent across all age groups among those who watched the racy programs.
Study lead author Anita Chandra noted that TV-watching was strongly connected with teen pregnancy even when other factors were considered, including grades, family structure and parents’ education level.
This study adds to the growing body of evidence that what you put into your brain does influence your behavior. Repeated exposure to music, TV shows or movies that depict certain types of behavior as normal or acceptable gradually influences our thinking and hence our behavior. It is naive and foolish to assume that we somehow won’t be affected by what we allow into our minds. It is no different from assuming that having terrible eating habits year after year won’t eventually affect your health.
That’s why the Scriptures have so much to say about our thought lives. For example, Philippians 4:8 says:
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
The Greek word translated “dwell” in this passage means “reason about, ponder, think about.” The NASB translators note says “Lit. ponder these things.” “Ponder” is a good word that indicates unhurried, careful thought. The ESV translates it, “think about these things.” The verb is a present tense imperative, which indicates a command to regularly and often ponder these things.
How many movies and TV shows promote the qualities listed in this passage? How much time should we be spending watching them? Share your thoughts below by leaving a comment.