PIRE Publication - Television Use, Sexual Behavior, and Relationship Status at Last Oral Sex and Vaginal Intercourse


The current longitudinal study explores the relationship between adolescent television use at time 1 and sexual experience and relationship status (i.e., committed/romantic versus casual) 1 year later. The sample (N = 824) comprised youth aged 14–18. Multinomial logistic regressions predicting group membership from television exposure variables were conducted controlling for socio-demographic characteristics and prior sexual behavior. Results indicate that sexually inexperienced youth watched more television overall than sexually experienced youth, but less adult, premium and music television on cable networks. Premium cable exposure predicted group membership among sexually active youth. Youth who watched more premium cable at time 1 were more likely to be in casual relationship at last intercourse than a committed one. A more complete understanding of media effects on adolescent sexual relationships can help guide policy development, media education/literacy efforts, and contribute to the design of interventions to reduce the negative consequences associated with adolescent sexual behavior.

Bersamin, Melina
Bourdeau, Beth
Fisher, Deborah
Grube, Joel