Television is increasingly depicting teen girls in a sexual way in shows aimed at a young audience, a nonprofit educational group says.
A Parents Television Council study released Wednesday found that many of these sexy images and depictions, from a teenage girl who dances seductively through her classroom to teens sharing a very passionate kiss in a dark room, are all from primetime network television.
"It's a ubiquitous saturation of sexualization of young girls in every form of media," said Tim Winter, president of the Parent Television Council. "It's not just college kids, it's not just twenty-somethings, we're now talking about teenagers."
The study analyzed the top 25 primetime scripted programs for viewers aged 12 to 17.
It looked at shows such as "90210," "Glee," "Gossip Girl" and "Grey's Anatomy "and defined sexualization as "the act or process of sexualizing… making of a person, group or thing to be seen as sexual in nature."
The study found that underage female characters were more often depicted in a sexual way than adult female characters. And for the underage characters, it is more likely visual sexual behavior as opposed to just dialogue.
The majority of the characters were presented as high school kids, not college age adults.
Seventy five percent of these shows did not contain an "S" for sexual content rating, so that parents could avoid them.
"Good Morning America" parenting expert Ann Pleshette Murphy said while "parents and friends are really influential but television messages can play a huge role in both the acquisition of information but also the acquisition of values."
Murphy said it's important to keep tabs on what children watch since it exposes them to potential risks for problems.
"It really has an effect on their mental health and their attitudes towards themselves. And it can really have lifetime negative consequences," she said.
Parents can help curb that saturation by having a conversation with their children.
"As a parent it is incumbent upon you to become more involved in the media consumption of your child," said Winter. "Young children are watching these actors, they are seeing these pretend teenagers as the types of role models they want to become. "