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Sex in the Media: Effects on Behaviors and Relationships

The adolescents are among the groups that have much access to the media. They have access to such media as the internet, television, music, and video games among other media. These forms of media convey some sexual messages which are portrayed through dialogues, song lyrics, and images. Adolescents are at a stage in which they strive to have independence and seek to develop their values and beliefs. This makes them prone to the media influence and if they do not obtain guidance, they may be influenced by the messages they negatively receive from the media.

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It is pointed out that, although any group of people at any stage of life can be influenced by the media, adolescents may be particularly vulnerable (Gruber and Grube, 2010). This group of people might be particularly vulnerable since they are at a stage where the cognitive skills they have to enable them to engage in critical analysis of the messages they receive from the media and this can cause them not to be in a position to come up with better decisions basing on the probable future outcomes have not been developed to the desirable level (Lowry & Towles, 2007). This implies that the adolescents are not supposed to be left on their own and just like the children who have not reached this stage, they need to be guided on what to do rather than considering them as adult people. This will serve to enable them to have a smooth transition from them this crucial stage to adulthood without having to be affected negatively by the media.

Beginning from the advent of the internet, pornography “has been consumed in greater quantities than ever before in human history, and its content has grown more graphic” (Eberstadt & Layden, 2010, n.p). Research that was conducted in recent times suggests that the consumption of pornography negatively affects individuals as well as society (Eberstadt & Layden, 2010). There is a need to undertake more studies but a growing body of research gives out a suggestion that for some of the consumers of pornography, this can turn out to be psychologically addictive, and bring in negative effects on the quality of the interpersonal relationships, “sexual health and performance, and social expectations about sexual behavior” (Eberstadt & Layden, 2010, p.1). Extensive consumption of pornography tends to bring in a grave challenge to public health as well as to the well-being of a family. However, having joint efforts from the “legislators, the therapeutic community, educators, policymakers, and responsible corporate leaders, some of the negative effects of pornography consumption can be combated” (Eberstadt & Layden, 2010, p.1).

The term pornography is closely related to the term erotica. However, there is a difference between these terms. Pornography involves watching a movie that has no plot, structure, or symbolism other than pure sex. But on the other hand, when one reads an erotica book, he or she will be able to read about certain characters, how they feel, their attitudes, and their emotion towards sexual experiences. One will also be able to read about their sexual needs, desires, and sensuality. As on the one hand, pornography does not leave anything to imagination because everything is exhibited upfront in noises or words and clear images, on the other hand, erotica is more restrained, even as the most important message remains to be about sex and sexual activities. In essence, pornography serves the purpose of stimulating rapidly. On the other hand, the contents of erotica play with the mind as well as the creativity of the reader or viewer to give room for him or her to engage in identifying with the characters, to engage in feeling the action, and to live the sexual act, progressively through sensation.

To explain how pornography and erotica affect individual behavior and interpersonal relationships, this can be carried out by considering some of the models of the effects of pornography and erotica. One of these models is the social learning model. According to this model, people engage in learning through observation, “but that only behaviors that are rewarded are likely to be imitated “ (Levert, 2007, p.147). Therefore, if a pornographic exhibition portrays a man overpowering a woman sexually, when she first does not agree to such advances but finally invites them and derives pleasure from them, “the viewer learns that overpowering women sexually leads to sexual rewards both for himself and his partner, and he is then more likely to imitate the behavior” (Levert, 2007, p.150). Based on the researches that have been undertaken, continuously, it has been indicated that the “combination of sexual arousal and violence results in more misogynist attitudes and behaviors than depictions of violence against women or sexually explicitness alone” (Levert, 2007, p.155). Another model is the “Permission-Giving Beliefs Model”. The pornographic consumers may convince themselves that women enjoy what they are doing and are not harmed by it, “or not using pornographic material is much better than seeking out women for affairs” (Levert, 2007, p.158).


Eberstadt, M. & Layden, M. A. (2010). The social costs of pornography: A statement of findings and recommendations. New Jersey, N.J: Witherspoon Institute, Inc.

Gruber, E.& Grube, J. W.(2010).Adolescent sexuality and the media. West J Med. 172(3): 210–214.

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Levert, N. P. (2007). A comparison of Christian and non-Christian males, authoritarianism, and their relationship to Internet pornography addiction/compulsion. Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity, 14 (1), 145–66.

Lowry, D.T, & Towles, D.E. (2007) Primetime TV portrayals of sex, contraception, and venereal diseases. Journalism Q 66: 347-352.

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