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Sexy Time: Teenage Sex on TV

For all of you MTV junkies out there, I’m sure you’re more than aware of the Skins US premiere. The show surprised viewers not only because it was actually decent, but because it apparently caused quite an uproar — turns out teenagers having sex, drinking, and doing drugs doesn’t sit too well with some adult viewers.

There’s been multiple stories about advertisers who have pulled out of the show, aghast at the topics that were tackled in the pilot. Some people are even expressing concern over the show violating child pornography laws. In all fairness, I haven’t seen the show (US or UK), but I’m aware of the subject matter. While these things might be a bit of a taboo, I think the uproar is going a little bit too far. Mostly, I have a question for the execs and reporters who are making comments on the show – do you have any idea what high schoolers are actually like these days?

Of course, not every teenager can be lumped into the “drinking, smoking, and having sex” group, but I can guarantee that those who don’t participate are, at the very least, aware that these things are going on; which explains why it’s the adults that are concerned, not the target audience.

I’m not going to comment on whether these sexual activities are “right” or “wrong” – that’s a whole other story – but what I’m saying is that teenagers are not as innocent as the 40-and-older group likes to think. No one likes to think about it, but teenagers are sexual beings. This is made pretty evident by the fact that the average age of “first contact” (read: when people use their virginity) is around 17-years old globally — which is just about the same age as the show’s target audience. That’s not to say they should be going out and having unprotected sex with everything that moves, but teenagers aren’t stupid, they know what sex is, and someday – probably sooner than later – they will be doing it.

Not having seen the show, I honestly don’t know if they took it too far, but I can’t help but wonder if this is just a symptom of a larger problem — why are so many adults so afraid of teenage sexuality?

We’re already aware that abstinence-only education doesn’t work, but maybe sheltering kids and removing shows that portray teenagers as sexual beings has the capacity to make young adults feel even more that their behaviour is bad. They’re already hearing this message from their parents, churches, and schools; do we really want sexually-active teenagers to feel nothing but shame? Most of us have our formative sexual years in our teens — and if those years are riddled with shame and guilt, what does that mean for the rest of our sexual lives?

Maybe what teenagers need is to hear the message that sex is okay – just wait until you’re ready, and make sure you’re being as safe as possible. What people are looking for is a middle ground between silence and pornography, and perhaps that middle ground is a non-sensationalized honest look at teenage sexuality.

Now maybe this is going to come from a show like Skins US, and maybe it’s not. More than anything, the teenage populace needs to be able to learn about sex without the adults in their lives trying to shield their eyes and cover their ears. High schoolers deserve more credit than they’re given, and I’m fairly confident that if they’re given access to the information they’re curious about, they’ll make the right decisions.

What are your thoughts on teenage sexuality in the media?

    Comments

    Comments

    1. Charlotte- University of Birmingham says:

      I watched the UK series and I have to say, it's pretty accurate. Not necessarily me or my friends, but people we know and friends and friends would have had experiences much like the ones in the show.
      That doesn't make it right or wrong, but it does make it real. If on an extreme scale.

      Charlotte http://www.girlnextdoorfashion.net

    2. Priya says:

      Thank you. Seriously. As a teenager, I get the feeling that sexuality is bad and should be frowned upon but I know people my age that have Skins-esque experiences. There's nothing wrong with sexuality as long as you're careful and cautious and I think 'grown-ups' need to realise that. Ok, rant over.

      1. Ellie says:

        The truth is that most teens do not understand what "being careful" about sex is. 90% of sex ed courses taught in schools are abstinence based. I know for a fact that when I was a teen, which was not long ago, I I knew basically nothing about birth control and disease prevention. "Pulling out" doesn't work! Planned Parenthood was taboo, which its not! Its a great source of information! Also a lot of teens are pressured into having sex too young when having sex doesn't even feel good to them yet. This can damage their self esteem and disrupt other areas of their lives. Combined with lack of knowledge about birth control and STD prevention, its can lead to a really bad situation.

        From what I've read, this show also glorifies other high risk behaviors such as drug and alcohol abuse, which is not okay at any age, especially for teens whose brains and bodies are still developing.

    3. Jason says:

      hey ness! so I will state that first off, the show is accurate to the more active of teens, the party go-ers, the relationship seekers, and the substance users. it was also very interesting take on TV in that the episodes followed one of the main cast for the entire episode. The real issue is that while England has (seemingly) no issue with showing their teens for who they are, the continent of North America does. Personally I'm thrilled at season 5 starting so soon, since season 4 was left at such a cliffhanger.

    4. Jenna says:

      Wait. Some people actually thought the u.s. version was good?

      1. Kali says:

        it was terrrrible

    5. Kate says:

      I disagree. I'm 21 and sexually active now but I know that if I saw that show when I was 16, I would see the theme that "being a virgin at 16 is embarrassing" and feel pressured, even if only subconsciously. Sure some kids have sex with anyone and do drugs, but the majority don't do this regularly or at all.
      I don't think the backlash is that parents don't want to accept that this is how students are. I think the backlash is because teens should not be watching this show and thinking that this is how teens act. I know it would have made me think differently if I was watching a show with kids my own age who were having sex with anyone and where the kid who's still a virgin is the loser.

    6. dazey says:

      Firstly the UK series was AMAZING. Saying that this show is dangerous for impressionable teenagers to watch is like saying that the Sopranos was dangerous for impressionable adults to watch … the UK version had amazing moments of drama, whereas the US version all the characters look to privileged and not rough enough

    7. Bri says:

      if watching a show or anything of the sort that falls into the category of "pressure from the media" actually causes enough pressure to change a persons/teens decision to have sex, that person was going to anyways and obviously didn't very strong opinions/ideals/morals on when they choose to have sex. If someone wants to wait, they will wait; if someone is willing to have sex, they will. when ppl say "oh its the medias fault!" thats a load off bullsh*t. ya maybe if i was a teen i would think the ppl in this show think its embarrassing to be a virgin at age 16, but i would still see it as a tv show. If ppl in my school thought that way it would be more pressuring than a show.

      1. hilary says:

        I chose not to read comments from people who can't spell, it kind of detracts from the argument

      2. Heather says:

        Then make sure you don't read your own comments Hilary….the word you were looking for was choose….choose.

      3. Jen says:

        How old are you? I think it's a completely flawed argument that media has no affect on people's decisions, especially young teens. I don't even know where to begin…

      4. Heather says:

        I actually have to agree with Bri here. It is only the weak minded that are affected by "media pressure" and those same individuals would be affected by just about anything. I am far away from my teenage years now, but I recall these same arguments being made about certain shows when I was that age, and I can certainly say, for myself and my friends at least, that seeing whatever was portrayed on those shows did not make us more likely to want to engage in those behaviors. In fact, the opposite is true, the more taboo adults make these things, and the more they try to shield teens from it, the more curious about all of it they become because the one thing that is sure to make a young person want to do something is to tell them they can't. (see the success rate of abstinence only sex ed). Too many adults assume teenagers are weak, idiotic drones that will go along with whatever they see. Give them a little more credit than that. The ones that engage in high risk behavior are the ones that would do it no matter if there is a tv show about those things or not.

    8. steph says:

      The UK version was great. The US version is AWFUL!

    9. realist says:

      Personally I think MTV really dumbs down girls, and just exploits women/girls
      who have unhealthy friendships,shows them in bad relationships with no healthy
      relationships to compare them too. The Hills, holy disfunctional relationship
      universe. But the girls stayed in bad relationships, said "what are you gunna
      do, that's men" and the women wanted relationships with men who didn't blah
      blah. That worried me. My husband and I were disgusted with the message that
      and the City gave. Never showed hey, you can have a great relationship, men
      should treat you well, and there are many out there that will.

    10. sara says:

      this show isn't about what normal teenagers do- that's why it is so interesting to watch. the danger is in average teenagers thinking that this is what is supposed to be 'normal'. Maybe everyone knows a person or two like this but speaking from a typical american public school standpoint- this group of friends is completely fictional.

      That being said. I love the British version of the show- anyone who finds the american version remotely interesting should look into it!

    11. realist says:

      ——————————————————————————–____Media did the same thing when I was in HS (mid -late 80's) I remember being pissed off that people would think we were so stupid as a group, that we couldn't think for ourselves and we were impressionable to the point of being moronic. Now we still have the same moviesthat are fun and focus on "getting laid" but on top of that sex is sensationalized 100x more than when I was in HS. MTV especially and really makes it look and sound like EVERYONE is doing it. Every teen is doing drugs and hooking up with anyone, anywhere, anytime. But.. I haven't seen a bunch of movies about teens posting nude pics on the net. Not a single movie called for example, "POSTIN MY NUDE PICS!" has been released. So their reasons must be more from their social environment?

    12. Tori says:

      All this reminds me of is Degrassi. Seriously, it's all I can think of.
      But to me Degrassi had a better balance between different types of students– those who didn't party, those who did– whereas Skins seems to isolate one specific (and fairly small) group of students. I knew kids like that in high school, but it was more of a…"phase" and was only a few people. It's also important that they show the consequences, and the other types of students. There are a LOT that aren't interested in that lifestyle in high school.

    13. Miss M says:

      My friends and I were discussing our issues with this show the other day. I think it isn't the show so much that I have a problem with it's the network airing it (MTV). I think it's so dumb that MTV has been running and pushing all these anti-drug, safe-sex, love is respect etc commercials and shows and then they have a show like this. Mixed messages much anyone? Also I think what bothers me is that I was watching MTV when I was in middle school. I don't even know what I would have done/expected of high school if I was watching this show. Yes you can argue it's a parents responsibility to monitor what their children watch blah blah blah but I think this show wouldn't have had such a backlash if it was on showtime or HBO. This show was nothing like my high school experience and just coming off student teaching at a high school I sure as hell hope it's nothing like my students experiences.

      1. Jamie Ann says:

        Well said. I completely agree with you and as a 23 year old elementary school teacher myself, I think that makes programs like this even more dangerous when even elementary age children are watching shows and being exposed to content they shouldn't be at their ages. I feel like society as a whole has just become so hyper sexualized over the past few decades.

      2. NatArr says:

        I have 16 and 14 year old sisters and they're not dumb enough to believe that you can live a lifestyle like the kids on skins and not have consequences, our parents have taught us better than that. I watched racy tv shows in high school and I didn't end up some overly sexed drugged up junkie. It's just a TV show. Parents need to take responsibility for their kids behavior and stop blaming the media. I would've loved Skins as a teenager, but that doesn't mean I was gonna take a tablet of ecstasy.

    14. Ellie says:

      There are A LOT of teens who do not engage in these risky behaviors and seeing this on TV will make them think that its a good idea or make them feel ashamed if they're not abusing and having sex.

      It's not the same as adults watching a program and being able to discern right from wrong. Teens still have a developing frontal lobe, the decision making area of the brain. Some things that adults will definitely say is not a good idea will be taken into serious consideration by teens.

      Also, younger children such as middle schoolers are frequent viewers of MTV as well. these types of programs are definitely going to have an impact on them- as to how they should act to seem more mature, and "cool" like older teens.

      I am now in my twenties. As I look back, I was already uncomfortable with who I was in middle school and high school. If I had seen this show, my discomfort with who I was would have increased dramatically because high risk activities would be so normalized I would feel more pressure to have sex, do drugs, and engage in other risky behaviors and I would feel ashamed if I didn't engage in these behaviors!

      1. Jamie Ann says:

        Exactly. I completely concur and couldn't have said it any better myself.

    15. Jonathan says:

      That is Bullshit.
      First of all, if you've actually seen the British version of the show and finished the first season at least, you'd realize that the show doesn't promote extreme sexuality at all. Jal and Sid(Stanley) both aren't sexully active in the first season and the show makes it explicitly clear that though they aren't, they are still awesome people.

    16. :)! says:

      Whoever is saying that this is show should not be aired should think twice. It is a TV show not real life so , like a lot of movie's nowadays, it is going to contain a few unrealistic plot lines as that's the fun of it, its not real.
      I have watched every single season of the UK version of skins and although I am not even remotely like most of the characters, I can still relate to them in certain situations and I'm fairly certain I'm not the only one . Everyone's different so obviously there's going to be a percentage of people who don't get where the show is coming from or who say that life in their teenage years wasn't like that etc. but that doesn't necessarily mean it wasn't like that for other people. I know quite a few who live a party life-style or who have lived it and most of them have come out alright. Experimenting is a way of learning and a way of growing up and if that's some people's way of doing it by having sex and basicly just going off the rails then so be it, as long as they're not hurting others I don't see the problem, the only person that may be harmed in the long run is themselves. Just because someone may have a different take on life doesn't mean it's wrong or it's untruthful even if it's only, for example, 1 % of the population. Saying that Skins isn't a portrayal of teenage life isn't strictly true because there are people out there who live their life's similar to the characters of the show. It should be taken into consideration that you should never generalize topics like these as everyone lives their life differently.
      TV is entertainment, fun, in my opinion it should not be taken so seriously as there are other more serious problems to be concerned about.

    17. Anna says:

      Why are so many adults afraid of teenage sexualty? Um, could it be because of the high rates of teenage pregnancy (that just breeds unprepared parents who often raise problem children) and STDs, particularly HIV and AIDS, which ultimately kills them?

      Geez. What are you, 17?

      1. Ness - Sheridan says:

        Every teenager is a sexual being, whether you or their parents like it or not. I'm happy to say that I got through my teenage years without getting pregnant or contracting an STI. You CAN be sexually active and smart at the same time. It's all about information, and taking away information (by censoring TV shows, and basing education on abstinence) are good ways to ensure that teenagers have no idea what to do once they start having sex.

        And trust me, they will start having sex.

    18. Emily says:

      I have to disagree with people who say that if kids watch this show they might engage in risky behaviors. I watch Skins, and it does not make me want to engage in those things that are portrayed on the show.
      I like the show, and i don't think the material is too risque.

    19. kodd says:

      honestly i agree with you i just turned 21 and i remember high school vividly and maybe its because i grew up in Orange County where things move a little bit faster than the rest of the country but this is EXACTLY what it was like (although i will point out that the british version does a way better job). We had teacher student sex scandals, drugs, studs, and teens with MULTIPLE sex partners and parents are lying to themselves if they think that their children aren't already exposed to this in real life with their friends who have a bigger influence than any tv program does… trust me i watched 7th heaven from start to finish and it had no impact… your kids (hopefully) are smart enough to not listen to a television program but what their peers tell them has the greatest influence

    20. Rawr says:

      Honestly i think anyone watching this show should realize this only represents a small percentage of the teenage population. Yes a lot of teens by my age are sexually active, using drugs, or hav just done one or the other once. But it only few are as extreme as the skins characters.

      I think it'd b worse for middle schoolers who watch mtv b/c i'm sure this wud have shaped how i thot highschool would be and quite frankly i'd b scared lol. Most teens in hs aren't that impressionable so itz fine. And parents hav reason to worry b/c they can't know everything their kid is doing, which is sad……ish…

    21. Sara says:

      The issue with the show…since you haven't seen it…is that the children are using each other in the coarsest way. There is no respect of self, or anyone else. It's a horrific portrayal of children…and all for profit.

    22. AdrianH says:

      I love how everyone assumes that if you're a teenager you'll be easily swayed by what's on tv. I'm 17 and no, skins does NOT make me want to go out, have sex, do drugs etc etc.

      Oh and Skins US is total crap. Watch the UK version.

    23. madeline says:

      Skanks

    24. Marty says:

      How could you write an article about a show you never watched?The show is pretty far out there.I know kids in their teens drink do drugs and have sex but this is a stupid show.The lead actor is like some Charlie Manson type that everybody follows.Its plain dumb and quite over the top.

    25. NatArr says:

      The show is a fantasy. The UK version is much racier than anything that will ever be on American TV, but it's just that, a show. I am 23 and I didn't engage in 95% of the activities depicted on the show, but I knew of them and had that small itch to be that wild and crazy. The only problem was, I had consequences. As long as parents instill consequences for bad behavior, the show is not all that influential because it is far too extreme to be a typical teenagers reality. Are there teens engaging in risky behavior? Absolutely, but it rarely escalates to the situations of the show because there are far too many consequences. Also, the types of teens doing drugs and having sex excessively are too far gone to actually sit down and watch the show.

      I think American adults need to realize that it's just a TV show and worry more about what their children are actually doing, rather than what they are watching. Teens will party, they probably will have sex, they may try or even do drugs, but trust me a TV show is not going to be the catalyst that sends them into a one way ticket to nowhere. I was always intrigued from a young age by the types of things I saw on skins because I knew it wasn't reality. My parents taught me the difference, plus if I did engage in that type of behavior I wouldn't see the outside of my house for months. But hey, I could always watch it on TV.

      On another note, the MTV version is horrible and does not in any way capture the rawness and edginess of the UK version. Plus the actors who portrayed Tony and Cassie are irreplaceable. Can't wait to see Nicholas Hoult in X-Men: First Class.

    26. nuni says:

      i like skins (the U.S. version) and i don't see why people think it's so terrible. the kids dont party everyday but when they do,i think, its pretty realistic. the morning after? not so much but hey, it is t.v.

    27. Victoria says:

      To the author: it's spelled "populace," not "populous."

      1. Ness - Sheridan says:

        Adjective vs. noun. I had no idea. Thanks!

    28. autumn says:

      I'm 16 year old and I'm sexually active and i tend to drink. but this show deffiantly doesnt show exactly what teenagers do on weekends. i can tell you from a teens point of view, we arnt all having sex with everyone we see, and we dont get wasted every weekend. most of us have jobs, or sports that require a lot of time. yes, we do like to go to parties, but its not all the time. my older brother is 18 and he parties and is sexually actice and is closer to the character's ages on Skins, but he doesnt act like they do. the show isnt realistic. i do like the show, and the fact that its not realistic probably makes me like it even more.

    29. intoyourblueeyes says:

      TV shows only represent the real condition…
      If one is concern about the "shown culture", one should try to change the original culture…
      The reality is, if we want better next generation having good future, we need to change them not the appearance of tv shows…

      How To Make a Guy Fall In Love With You

    30. Alys says:

      I’m cool with showing a show with kids partying and doing drugs when it’s well acted, slightly realistic, and shows the potential consequences.

      The UK version of Skins was amazing. The US version has Tony as someone I can only equate to a bully who tells his friend being a virgin is embarrassing and is a complete jerk is his girlfriend. If I heard that when I was 16 (and still a virgin) I would have been embarrassed too. The show is also just poorly acted. The writers didn’t do a good job Americanizing the show.

      I partied in high school and still do now, but in high school it was never like it consumed my life and I had some pretty bad hangovers because half the time I didn’t know what I was doing. Same thing with college. It’s inaccurate to think you can’t have consequences and US Skins needs to show that and get better actors and writers.

    31. […] Teens having sex and taking drugs on TV! Apparently nobody’s parents ever went to high school. (College Candy) […]

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    33. Chelsea says:

      I don’t understand the huge deal about the show… I’ve watched the British version and absolutely enjoyed it. It was a bit of a blast of reality to me, I’ve graduated from High School two years ago, and I can recall the smoking, drinking and drugs that distracted me. It was relieved to finally see students who weren’t absolutely perfect. The show made a point to show that not everybody’s life is amazing, the kids all have problems that make them turn to drinking and drugs. Watching shows with kids my own age back then that were perfectly okay for television made me feel like crap. I wondered why their parents didn’t fight and why they got to live in a nice house and why no one in the show screwed up. (The worst I ever saw was sneaking out past curfew).
      I do not think that everyone should have made such a huge fuss over a show. It’s not like it’ll change the world or anything.

    34. sonicenya says:

      good works, thanks everybody. thank you very much.

      mirc

    35. Courtney says:

      I'm fifteen years old and a sophomore in high school. The British version of this show, which is on a whole other (higher) level of vulgarity, is completely accurate and as far as i know not exaggerated at all. I live in an exceptionally sheltered town in the midwest, and things go on in my school that are just as gritty, sexual and illegal as in Skins. Drugs in school, sex in school, arson and theft and the rest of the rainbow of criminal activity- ALL of it is done in high schools. In my opinion, parents should open their eyes to whats going on and cope with it. Just because it's ignored doesn't mean it's not happening.

    36. […] Sexy Time: Teenage Sex on TV (collegecandy.com) […]

    37. farri says:

      i think the right time 2 play sex is after 22 years be4 22yrs specialy boys loss there nutural sex time. and then they use medicen to increas there sex time. this things are very denjourus. ?

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