Nearly half of adolescents say there's too much sex on TV: study

Rear view of teenage girl using smart phone app while watching TV in living room at home
Rear view of teenage girl using smart phone app while watching TV in living room at home | Getty Images

Nearly half of adolescents in the United States believe there's too much sexual content on television, with more than half wanting more platonic relationships represented, according to a recent study.

The University of California Los Angeles’ Center for Scholars & Storytellers released a study in late October titled “Teens & Screens 2023 Report,” which analyzed adolescent opinions on entertainment media.

The report drew from a survey conducted in August of 1,500 adolescents, with an age range between 10 and 24, with 33.3% of the respondents being between 13-17 years old, while 46.7% were between 18 and 24.

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According to the findings, 44.3% of respondents aged 13–24 felt that romance was “overused” in media, while 47.5% said sex was unnecessary for the plot of most movies and TV shows.

In addition, a slight majority (51.5%) of respondents wanted to see more entertainment content centered on platonic relationships, and 39% wanted more “asexual” characters on their screens.

Professor Yalda T. Uhls, founder and director of CSS and co-author of the study, said in a statement that she believed the findings showed young people “want more and different kinds of relationships reflected in the media they watch.”

“We know that young people are suffering an epidemic of loneliness and they’re seeking modeling in the art they consume,” Uhls continued.  

“While some storytellers use sex and romance as a shortcut to character connection, it’s important for Hollywood to recognize that adolescents want stories that reflect the full spectrum of relationships.”

The study also found that 50.5% of respondents expressed a preference for binge-watching shows, while 25.5% of respondents preferred seeing weekly releases of TV episodes.

Additionally, 56% of surveyed adolescents preferred to watch original TV shows and films instead of remakes or programs based on pre-existing intellectual property, like books or comics.

In recent years, there has been much controversy over claims of sexual content being included in children’s programming, with media watchdog activists arguing that more family-friendly content should be advanced.

Last month, the Parents Television and Media Council released a report, which found that various popular streaming services were failing to provide sufficient family-friendly entertainment.

According to the PTC report, there are 541 TV-MA original series across the major streaming services, compared to 87 TV-PG and 60 TV-G original series, or at least 268% more adult-only entertainment on streaming platforms than family content.

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