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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Media affects sexual habits

Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Paul Wright, A UA graduate student in communication, is currently analyzing existing studies on sexual material in the main stream media to determine on the effects that such content has on the sexual behavior of youth under 18. Wright is seen here in Dale Kunkels media lab, which is where a large portion of their data gets reviewed and assessed.
Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat Paul Wright, A UA graduate student in communication, is currently analyzing existing studies on sexual material in the main stream media to determine on the effects that such content has on the sexual behavior of youth under 18. Wright is seen here in Dale Kunkel’s media lab, which is where a large portion of their data gets reviewed and assessed.

A UA graduate student is compiling research about how sex in the media influences American youths’ sexual behavior. 

Paul Wright has reviewed previous studies with his advisor Dale Kunkel, who spent the majority of his career studying mass media and its influence on the youth in society.

Kunkel’s research has helped Wright draw his conclusions.

“”What we find from the research that I have done is that sex on television is sanitized and glamorized,”” Kunkel said. “”It is glamorized in the sense that people that engage in sex find it rewarding and it makes them happy. It is sanitized in the sense that bad outcome(s) rarely occur.””

Wright has documented the patterns according to the previous studies and chose to dig deeper into the lack of risk and responsibility messages that should be associated with sex.

Wright also found a connection between the media and child development.

“”A general child development outcome is that kids that have not (had sex) are doing better in life,”” Wright said. “”The kids that have had sex are more likely to have academic issues, lower educational aspirations, higher likelihood of depression — which is not necessarily caused by having sex.””

Some topics that Wright usually found unaddressed were lack of contraception use, having sex with multiple partners, pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Wright is strictly working with behavioral outcomes of teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18.

Some studies Wright included in his article look at whether teenagers have had intercourse and whether there is solid evidence that exposure to sexual media increases the likelihood of a teenager having sex. 

“”We now have some evidence that exposure to sexual media decreases the likelihood of contraception, increases the likelihood of an STI and increases the likelihood of making someone pregnant if you are a guy and becoming pregnant if you are a girl,”” Wright said.

Kunkel has previously received grants from the Kaiser Foundation to research sex on television.

Wright is a UA communications doctoral student. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from California State University, Fullerton.

“”He is one of the top students I have worked with. He is an incredibly strong writer.”” said Kunkel, who usually only takes one graduate student each year. “”You can have all the greatest studies and data, but if you can’t convey the information clearly and accurately, then you will not be as successful.””

Wright, whose article compiles previous research from 23 U.S. studies on mainstream media, completed the piece which is now under review for publication.

“”It is very important to do the studies, but if nobody ever sits down and reads all the studies, thinks about them, and draws conclusions across them, then it’s a worthless research endeavor,”” Wright expressed.

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