Parents, lawmakers and media executives are given plenty to think about in the American Academy of Pediatrics' policy statement published Sunday. Kids today are bombarded with inappropriate sexual messages and images, the AAP committee said; everything from graphic sexual lyrics in songs to ubiquitous erectile dysfunction drug advertisements that air all hours of the day and night.
"Television, film, music, and the Internet are all becoming increasingly sexually explicit, yet information on abstinence, sexual responsibility, and birth control remains rare," they write.
Among the points the panel makes:
- Only three reality dating shows were on the air in 1997 compared with more than 30 today, including "Temptation Island," which "bring participants together for the sole purpose of seeing who 'hooks up,' " the authors said.
- In a national survey of 1,500 10- to 17-year-olds, nearly half of the Internet users had been exposed to online pornography in the previous year.
- A national survey of 1,300 teenagers and young adults found nearly 20% had sent or posted nude pictures of videos of themselves.
- Advertisements featuring women are as likely to show them in suggestive or revealing clothing or nude as fully clothed.
Meanwhile, the paper notes, television resists running advertisements about birth control -- including emergency contraceptives -- but erectile dysfunction ads appear during family TV hours. The ads, the doctors say, can be confusing to younger children and should appear only after 10 p.m. Others have complained about the number of ED ads on TV. Rep. Jim Moran, a Virginia Democrat, sent letters last year to the heads of three major pharmaceutical companies calling on them to moderate advertising for ED drugs.