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24 July 2012

What a Media Campaign Can Do For Parents’ Sex Talk With Young Teens

Keywords: marketing, parents, teens, North America, family communication, social marketing, socialization,

Parents’ sex talk with kids benefits their sexual development. A study in the Journal of Health Communication shows how a media campaign can promote “The Sex Talk”. The Parents Speak Up National Campaign (PSUNC) is a social marketing campaign in the US that promotes parent-child communication about sex. The researchers find that parents who watch the campaign messages talk about sex with their kids more often. In addition, kids of those parents more often share the same views with their parents about sex talks. 

Take aways

  • A social marketing campaign can promote parent-child communication about sex 
  • Parent-child agreement in views about sex talks is highest for: 
    • younger parents
    • same-sex parent–child pairs (mother- daughter and father-son)
    • non-white parent-child pairs
  • Therefore, future campaigns should focus on improving sex talk of parents who are:
    • older (50+)
    • white
    • more likely to talk to other-sex kids (e.g., single parents)

Study information

  • The question?

    Does exposure to PSUNC lead to increased parent-child sexual communication?

  • Who?

    394 children between the ages of 10 and 14 (210 boys, 184 girls) and one parent for each child (167 male, 227 female)

  • Where?

    United States

  • How?

    The study started with a survey among parents, containing questions about parent-child sexual communication Then, parents were divided into two groups. The first group was exposed to the PSUNC-campaign, while the second group did not see the campaign. After the campaign, the parents filled out the same questionnaire as before the exposure, and their children and their children filled out a similar questionnaire Parents’ and children’s answers were compared to tap how much parents and children shared the same views about sex.

Facts and findings

  • Parents who saw the campaign: 
    • recommended their kids more often to wait before having sex
    • agreed more often with their children about how often they started sex talks, recommended to wait before having sex, and talked about media messages glamorizing teen sexual activity
  • Agreement was highest for younger, same-sex, and non-white parent-child pairs 
  • The lowest levels of agreement were found in parents older than 50