Researchers at the Children's Hospital Boston found that the younger children are exposed to content intended for adults in television and movies, the earlier they become sexually active during adolescence.
"Television and movies are among the leading sources of information about sex and relationships for adolescents," lead author Dr. Hernan Delgado said in a statement. "Our research shows that their sexual attitudes and expectations are influenced much earlier in life."
The study consisted of 754 participants -- 365 males and 389 females -- who were tracked during two stages in life. Television programs and movies were tracked during childhood and sexual activity was tracked five years later when study participants were ages 12 to 18.
The study found that for every hour the youngest group of children watched adult-targeted content over the two sample days, their chances of having sex during early adolescence increased by 33 percent. Becoming sexually active in adolescence did not subsequently increase youth's viewing of adult-targeted television and movies, the study said.
The findings were presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies meetings in Baltimore.