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Influence of Internet on Family Communication About Sexuality

The Influence of the Internet in Family Communication about Sexuality Christo Jose Central New Mexico Community College ABSTRACT The mass media are an increasingly accessible way for people to learn about and see sexual behavior.Out of all the mass media today, adolescents use the television and the internet more than any other media resource.The use of internet has risen exponentially in the last few years and within a year, it is estimated that 90% of all families with children will have access to the internet.

The word sex is the most popular search term used on the Internet today.

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The Internet may have both positive and negative effects on sexual health. Internet bombards the minds of the teens these days with images of sex almost every single day. Aside from the daily dose of sexuality and eroticism provided by the mainstream media, 50% of all adolescents have said that they have encountered unwanted pornographic material on the internet. Many studies have been conducted to determine the extent of communication between adolescents and parents about sexuality.

It has often been shown that students are more likely to turn to friends and the media before discussing this topic with their parents. The availability of a large and wide scale of information on the internet and the freedom from the embarrassment of confrontation has compelled many adolescents in this path. Because of this, fewer families discuss sex and abstinence in their families. One study has found that the patterns of sexuality communication in a family are also dependent on the gender of the parents as well as the child.

Preadolescents who have communicated with their parents about sexuality have been shown to go to their parents for more advice when they are older. The internet does play a very important role in children communicating with their parents about sexuality. The internet provides a wide array of information that can lead or mislead children based on where they look for information. Some studies show that the use of internet in families have reduced the family communication and has led to less and less time spent with the family.

This leads to a strain in communication between the children and the parents and this lack of communication makes it uneasy on the children to go to their parents when in need of information about their sexuality. The mainstream mass media (movies, music, T. V. , magazines and the internet) provide frequent and sometimes explicit images of sexuality. Available studies show that the media do have an impact because the media keep sexual behavior on public and personal agendas, media portrayals reinforce a relatively consistent set of sexual and relationship norms, and the media rarely depict sexually responsible models.

In the Unites States, children spent about a third of their time a day exposed to some form of mass media. Patterns of media use vary greatly based on age, gender, race/ethnicity and socioeconomic level. Thus, one can never be sure that a message sent out through any form of media is interpreted as the same by the various people exposed to them. The internet being a bottomless pit of information can never be fully trusted. Though the internet provides more explicit material on sex than any other media, most of these are along the lines of pornography and do more harm than good.

The internet, being a product of normal people, isn’t always accurate and can provide information that are biased and may not always prove to be useful. The personal opinions and tips expressed in many websites aren’t usually based on any scientific or medical facts and can thus mislead children looking for information. In a study conducted in 1993, adolescents (aged 15-17) put their friends first, then parents and then the media for sources to acquire information about sexuality. Today, the media has risen in rank and leads as the main source of information for adolescents.

Among the various forms of media, internet maintains the top spot. The anonymity provided by the internet is one of the main reasons for the children of these days turning to it for information. The risk of embarrassment and confrontation is negated behind the blinds of the computer screen. The extreme nature of some of the sexual content available causes students to misinterpret many things they see online and mislead them into thinking about the prevalence of some activities in real life.

The media as a whole provides a picture that is far detached from the problems of real life and it has been shown that many teenagers strive to achieve that level of unnaturalness in their lives. Patterns of Sexuality Communication Between Preadolescents and Their Mothers and Fathers This was a study conducted to examine the extent of communication and the patterns of communication in various families between preadolescents and their parents. Each member of the triad completed a 10-item measure of communication about risk factors for sexual activity, sexual communication, and sexual risk prevention.

A majority of parents and their preadolescents reported communication had occurred about most topics. Mothers and fathers were equally likely to communicate with sons whereas mothers were more likely to communicate with daughters than were fathers. Based on the study results, preadolescence may be the optimal time for parents to provide sexual risk prevention messages to their children before sexual behaviors are initiated. Parents and other family members play critical roles in shaping adolescent sexual behavior through their parenting practices, sexuality communications, and modeling of risk reduction strategies.

Greater parental monitoring and less parental permissiveness are consistently related to later sexual initiation, less frequent sexual intercourse, less risky sexual behavior, fewer sexual partners, less pregnancy, and increased condom use among teens. The study found that overall, most preadolescents and their parents report that they have talked about risk factors, sexuality education and sexual risk prevention topics. The parents and the children were more prone to discuss topics like drug abuse and alcohol with their children than other sexual topics.

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Discussion about condoms and abstinence were least reported. Looking at the study gender-wise, we see that boys have discussed their sexuality with both the parents to the same level and have reported doing so. In the case of daughters, the patterns show that they tend to go to their mothers more for information about sexuality. Dad-daughter pairs rarely reported discussing sexuality, menstruation and puberty. Preadolescents are the time of their lives when they internalize the messages they get from their parents.

Children who have been educated at this time tend to not be affected peer relationships and the media as much as those who have not been. Children whose families communicate with each other abstain from risky behaviors and have more tendencies to be less influenced by the outside media. Thus parents need to be encouraged to communicate with their children about sexuality rather than letting them search for information outside the family circle. It is better to communicate with children at the age when they are more receptive to family communication.

Family Relations and the Internet: Exploring a Family Boundaries Approach Introduction of internet into the family environment can influence and change the way of life in a family. The increase in the use of internet in families has prompted many researchers to see how it can influence everyday life. Connection to the internet opens a window of information to families about parenting, child’s education and family health. Many studies have also stated that the frequent use of the internet by family members have cut into the time spent as a family.

This results in a lack of communication among the family members which can cause the children to go after various other media to fulfill their curiosities and the need for information. Most parents view the internet as a positive force in the life of their children and buy them computers and connect them to the internet to help them better at school, to do more research and to learn new things. Teens don’t always use the internet to match their parent’s expectations and in these conditions the positive force can turn into a source of conflict in the families.

Conflict, if not handled well, can lead to a lack of communication or miscommunication among the family members. This can lead to a lot of assumptions and misconceptions that can surface from a child’s limited view of the internet. Another argument against the use of internet is the large hole it cuts into the child’s available time. Internet use is time consuming and it has been found that internet use in high frequency is directly responsible for the negative effects on family communication and closeness.

All this studies are based on the conception that the communication between the family members is a closed system and that the internet cuts a hole in this closed fence. Communication in a family isn’t always related to the use of internet in every family. Many other factors play into this scenario. The schedules of the whole family are important and should be considered when something like this is examined. Dysfunctional families do not need the internet as a hindrance for the lack of communication among its members. Before the advent of the internet, there did exist many families who did not communicate properly within.

Even with these arguments in favor of the internet, its effect on the family can not be withheld. It has been shown that frequent internet visitors go there for social purposes and their personality characteristics are influenced by this and differ from normal. Adolescents who use the internet for social and entertainment purposes seem to have more conflict with their family than those who used it for educational purposes. On the whole, it can be seen that increase in the time spent on the internet has had a negative impact on the family time and a positive impact on the family conflicts.

Thus, the internet is directly linked to the decrease in family cohesion due to lack of communication and time spent together. CONCLUSION The three articles come to a conclusion about the nature of the influence the internet provides on family communication. Internet is a very useful resource and source of information and we can never deny its importance in everyday life. But, when we consider its influence on the young minds, we need to think about the advantages and the disadvantages. Depending on the point of view of a person, the internet can be good or bad.

From the articles we can see that the families who spend a lot of time on the internet do seem to have more communication dysfunction than those who spend less time. This can be due to two different reasons. Adolescents these days depend on many different sources of information available to them to teach them about their sexuality and sometimes these resources can point them in the wrong direction. Children who don’t have a good communication rapport with their parents at a young age usually don’t develop a good communication bridge with their parents when they get older and the peer relationships are stronger.

Some of the messages put across by the internet are factually wrong or morally incorrect and many children accept this as the truth due to lack of communication with parents. This leads to development of wrong set of ideas and can lead to various risky behaviors in the sexual context. The excessive amount of explicit sexual content available on the internet can confuse the minds of teens and younger children alike and can lead to a state of mind in which many of the things depicted may seem natural for them.

This again leads to risky sexual behavior. Another way the internet seems to affect the family communication is by cutting into the time spent as a family. This goes hand in hand with the earlier mentioned fact as this leads to lack of communication between the parents and the children leading the children to go elsewhere in search of advice or information. The whole thing works as a circle in which the increased use of internet by children has a negative impact on family communication about sexuality.

But it has been shown that parents who communicated with their children at a young age make an impact in their receptive minds and can thus strengthen the bond between the members of the family. This can lead to open communication in a family and thus the children can be educated properly and correctly about the various aspects of sexuality. From this, we can come to the conclusion that early development of a good bond with parents and the control of the use of internet (among many other factors) can help children grow up to be sexually responsible adults.

Since I am already an adult, I will use this information I have gained in the future with my family. Making sure to have an open and trustful bond with my children would be my primary objective when bringing them up. I will try to communicate better with my family in that way and can teach my children things that I myself have gone to various places to find. During the time I grew up, my main source of information on this topic was the internet and my peers which have led me to learn through trial and error which was risky and dangerous.

I realized from writing this article that one of the causes of this was the internet and I will make sure that my children won’t have to repeat my mistakes. Also, on a broader view, communication is very important in getting any kind of point across to people and it is important to look for accurate information when trying to teach someone something. Depending on the internet is not always accurate and in the right point of view. Another thing that can be learned from this is that it is always important to take time to open communication channels and talk to people.

Lack of communication can lead to lack of cohesion and more problems anywhere, be it work, family, friends, etc. BIBLIOGRAPHY Brown, J. (2002). Mass Media Influences on Sexuality. Journal of Sex Research, 39(1), 42-45. {text:bookmark-start} P {text:bookmark-end} Wyckoff, S. , Miller, K. , Forehand, R. , Bau, J. , Fasula, A. , Long, N. , et al. (2008). Patterns of Sexuality Communication Between Preadolescents and Their Mothers and Fathers. Journal of Child & Family Studies, 17(5), 649-662. Mesch, G. (2006). Family Relations and the Internet: Exploring a Family Boundaries Approach. Journal of Family Communication, 6(2), 119-138.

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