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Promotion of Sex in Print: How It Affects Us

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, kids and teens that get constant exposure to the media are more likely welcome sexual activities and intercourse compared to those who do not have that much access. This means that parents need to understand the kind of negative impact media has over how their kids perceive sex.[i] Although not all types of media contain elements of sexuality, we can always attest to the fact that most of what our kids see in them are chiefly promoting sex as something that’s casual rather than sacred.

The internet, television, movies, and even video games are major sources. And because young people are inherently naive and unaware, they unknowingly absorb sexual content from those sources and later integrate them in their behavior.

Now that’s pretty alarming, right?


Accordingly, there is one part of media that has been overshadowed by the popularity of television and the internet. It used to be that print media was the only means of acquiring news and information. People used newspapers, tabloids, and magazines to get informed and be entertained. But long before TV and the web started to change our children’s perception towards sex, print media has already been there.

Glenn Reynolds (2002) noted in his Fox News blog that media is the cause of the hype. Print media alone accounts for most of the advertisements we encounter every day. Billboards, newspapers, magazines, books, and tabloids are the most effective arenas for marketing and advertising products. At first, there seems to be no problem for that. As one digs deeper, though, it is very obvious that many products are sold with sex advertising.


It may be eye opening for some parents to study advertisements for products traditionally made for kids, such as candies and chocolates. There are a series of M&M commercials that portray a pair of candies lying beside each other in a romantic environment. The background music as well as the voices that personify them is even very sensual. And since we know that chocolates and candies are primarily for kids, what’s the point in making a sexually themed advertisement? Additionally, you will see a lot of center page and even cover page advertisements for chocolates that show sexy and almost nude women. The point is to manifest an idea that chocolate is like sexy women since they are both tempting.

But how about the welfare of our kids? Should they be allowed to see these kinds of print media hyping sex and sensuality? Many could argue that even if the product is intended for adults, such as liquor, a highway billboard viewable by children should not have lewd, sexual images to promote the product.


For print media, magazines like Playboy, Maxim, and FHM are intended for adults. But if you really try to read them, you will be shocked on how often they use teens as objects of sexual desire. They portray models that are barely eighteen and show the readers that the younger the model is, the larger the interest and profit becomes.


If you are still not convinced of the role of print and other forms of media in promoting sex, why not ask your child? AAP added that there is a major discrepancy as to what kind of perception the media creates about sex. Teens are led to believe that there is no consequence in doing it; that young men and women are objects of sex; and that everyone, regardless of age and gender, are welcome to engage in sexual intercourse.  And of course, as a parent, you should start worrying.


A 2009 survey conducted by Youth Risk Behavior found out that almost 50% of American high school seniors have had sex right before graduation. With this kind of number, there’s a very high probability that your kid is one of them. By then, you ask yourself: who should be blamed?

To be honest – it’s the media and you.


Print media for instance, encourages teens and young people to view young men and women as sex symbols. As you see in magazine covers, it becomes unusual not to find sexy women donning equally sexy clothes. Some even do not have clothes at all. But if you’re thinking that it happens in men’s magazines only, you’re wrong. Even those that promote products like fashion, perfume, food, medicine and supplements show a certain degree of sensuality in them.


Try purchasing one issue of the popular Cosmopolitan magazine and you’ll understand our point. This publication is intended for women of all ages. It deals with topics about their lifestyle that includes fashion and health. But even before you browse what’s inside, you will see that the cover page alone tangibly represents sex and women as symbols of it. The cover girl is always someone who either is wearing a sexy getup or most of the time, a lingerie or bikini. Even the rather wholesome People Magazine and Men’s Health portray the same kind of perception towards women – that they are the most popular symbols of sex.


For a parent’s part, preventing the media from showcasing sensuality isn’t rocket science. The best one can do is monitoring their kid’s use of the internet, television, magazine and print, movies, and even video games. There is no other effective remedy than making sure that your children are not greatly influenced by the sexuality trend.


Though most of us blame the issue on print and other types of media, we also cannot deny the fact that a parent’s lack of time and attention contribute. As children get unwanted content, they think of it as something that’s not harmful, when in fact it is. If there is no one there to accompany them, there’s a great chance they will be consumed by what the media feeds them.




[i] American Academy of Pediatrics. AAP Parent’s Pages. Sex, the Media and Your Child.


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