Fewer E.D. ads! New teen-focused recommendations for this sex-soaked culture

Teens now spend a whopping seven hours per day on various forms of media. So the American Academy of Pediatrics just issued a revised policy statement, “Sexuality, Contraception, and the Media,” in the September 2010 print issue of Pediatrics (published online Aug. 30). In addition to calling for the creation of a national task force on children, adolescents and the media to be convened by child advocacy groups in conjunction with the CDC or National Institutes of Health, it includes updated recommendations for pediatricians and parents on how to deal with this sex-soaked culture. Among the new recommendations since 2001:

  • Pediatricians can help parents and teens recognize the importance of this issue by asking at least two media-related questions during office visits: 1) How much time do you spend daily with entertainment media? 2) Is there a TV or Internet access in your bedroom?
  • In addition to supervising their children’s traditional media use, parents (as well as pediatricians) should understand social networking sites and counsel kids about using them.
  • The entertainment industry should be encouraged to produce more programming that contains responsible sexual content and that focuses on the interpersonal relationship in which sexual activity takes place. Meanwhile, advertisers should stop using sex to sell products.
  • Pediatricians and the government should urge and encourage the broadcast industry to air advertisements for birth control products.
  • Ads for erectile dysfunction drugs, which can be confusing to young viewers, should not air until after 10 p.m.
  • Parents can use media story lines as teachable moments to discuss sex with their teens instead of doing “the big talk.”

All good stuff, especially the recommendation for airing more birth control commercials and less erectile dysfunction ones. But we gotta say, the needle scratched across the entire record when we read “advertisers should stop using sex to sell products.” They might as well encourage every teen to be given a pony for their sweet sixteen, too.