I recently found my 16-year-old watching TV. She was viewing a scene where a guy had plopped a teen girl onto a copier with her skirt hiked up so he could get a nice, good black-and-white of her fanny.

“What are you watching!!!???” I ever-so-tactlessly cried out.

“Relax, Mom,” lamented Lexi with a blush. “It’s a commercial and a bad one at that.”

Are you one of “those” moms who is always the lone boycotter of the newest TV fad? Turns out, you’re a good mom, and some new research proves just how much you’re protecting. (It’s more than her mind!) It’s not just the categorically “bad” television that hurts our kids. The most sensational scenarios are not what is robbing our little girls of their innocence. It’s the slow-drip of value-ingraining shows where kids dress up and go on dates, and our kids are pressed to identify with older, more mature characters and life scenarios. (I probably don’t have to mention that “Hannah Montana” has a lot of that stuff in it, do I?) For our teens, it’s teen shows like the one Lexi saw promoted in that commercial where teens are doing very adult, very x-rated stuff that rips out their innocence. It’s what culture has deemed the “norm” that probably shouldn’t be if you want your kids to live a pure life.

There is an inarguable connection between the media diet of tweens and early sexual activity in teens. (Yep, I said tweens!) Fifty-five percent of teens who were exposed to a lot of sexual material as tweens had sexual intercourse between the ages of 14 and 16 compared with six percent of teens who rarely saw sexual imagery as tweens.[i] While studies often look at television shows with content deemed appropriate for teens and adults, you have to consider how a steady diet of boyfriend-girlfriend television programs, mildly sexual music lyrics, and an occasional PG or PG-13 movie impacts a child. Doesn’t it make sense that anything we feed our daughters that says “be boy-crazy” would just put her in the cultural current of early sexualization?

Play it safe, Mom. The stakes are too high.

So, are your kids to be monks? No! TV, music, and movies aren’t all bad. Just some of it is. How do you monitor TV in your house?

[i] Victor Strasburger, M.D. “Clueless: Why Do Pediatricians Underestimate the Media’s Influence on Children and Adolescents?” Pediatrics: Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Volume 117, Number 4, April 2006,