This paper examines the portrayal of sexual messages in the top 20 most popular television programs among teenagers in the United States. It compares findings from the 2001-2002 and 2004-2005 seasons. Results show that these programs contained a large number of sexual messages, though their frequency decreased over time. Most messages about sex were in the form of conversations. About 1 in 2 shows included portrayals of sexual behaviors, mostly precursory behaviors. Sexual risk and responsibility concerns were rarely addressed. Most consequences for sexual intercourse portrayed in 2004-2005 were negative, a significant change from 2001-2002. The findings' implications for adolescents' sexual socialization are discussed.
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