Evaluation of Sexual Content in Teen-Centered Films From 1980 to 2007


Teen-centered films, sexual content in films, adolescence


Film has become a popular form of entertainment among teenagers and provides images from which teens model behaviors and form attitudes. This study addresses the understudied area of the portrayal of teen and adult sexual behaviors over nearly three decades in the top-grossing teen-centered films from 1980 to 2007. This study analyzes the frequency, nature, character portrayals, and consequences of sexual behavior. The results show that teen-centered films are replete with passionate kissing and sexual dialogue yet contain a modicum of implied intercourse and intimate touching. Moreover, the frequency of such occurrences has remained surprisingly constant over the last three decades. This research also reveals that teen-centered films, as a source for sexual socialization, are relatively impoverished when it comes to responsible messages dealing with abstinence, safe sex practices, and the health risks associated with sex.

Original Publication Citation

Callister, M., Stern, L. A., Coyne, S. M., Robinson, T., & *Bennion E. (2011). Evaluation of sexual content in teen-centered films from 1980 to 2007. Mass Communication & Society, 14, 454 - 474.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Mass Communication and Society




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor