To gauge the episode’s impact, RAND used information from its earlier study to identify adolescents who watch The study did not find dramatic changes in teens’ sexual knowledge or belief.However, it looked at only a single episode of television, and one that included the somewhat complicated message that condoms almost always work, but sometimes fail, and with huge consequences.

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In effect, youths who watched the most sexual content “acted older”: a 12-year-old at the highest levels of exposure behaved like a 14- or 15-year-old at the lowest levels.

The study also identified other factors that increased the likelihood that teens would initiate intercourse, including being older, having older friends, getting lower grades, engaging in rule-breaking such as skipping class, and sensationseeking.

The average American teenager watches three hours of television a day.

Typical teen fare contains heavy doses of sexual content, ranging from touching, kissing, jokes, and innuendo to conversations about sexual activity and portrayals of intercourse.

A different set of factors was found to decrease the likelihood of first intercourse.

Many of these factors centered on parent characteristics, including having parents who monitored teens’ activities, having parents who were more educated or who were clearly disapproving of teens’ having sexual relations, and living with both parents.The first RAND study, funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, examined this issue.Analysts surveyed a national sample of households containing an adolescent from 12 to 17 years old.At the time of the episode’s first airing (2003), was the most popular show on American television.According to the Nielsen Corporation, 1.67 million adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 saw this episode.Thus, early initiation of intercourse is an important public health issue.