Magazines have both positive and negative influence on females
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Sexually transmitted disease (STD) rates are particularly high among younger people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, individuals between the ages of 15 and 24 account for nearly half of all new STD infections each year, even though this age group only represents 25 percent of the sexually active population. In order to combat this, health officials are constantly trying to determine what factors influence young people's sexual decisions.
Recently, a study published in Psychology of Women Quarterly found that young women who read sex-related magazine articles were less likely to view premarital sex as risky behavior than those who avoid such reading material. However, those who read these magazines were also more supportive of behavior that empowers women.
The researchers studied 150 female college students to come to their conclusion. The women were assigned to read either sex-themed articles or magazines that deal with mostly general entertainment gossip. They then asked their opinions on various topics such as premarital sex and a woman's role in a relationship.
"Our results suggest that the complex and sometimes conflicting representations of female sexuality proliferating in the mass media and popular culture could potentially have both empowering and problematic effects on women's developing sexual identities," stated the study authors.
Interestingly, the women's opinions tended to be different depending on their race. For example, white women were more likely to think that premarital sex isn't risky, and have a favorable view for women empowerment, than African American women.
These findings highlight the importance of determining the effect that the media has on young people's opinions of sexual behavior. Parents, teachers and health officials should be who young people turn to learn about sexual health, not magazines.
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