The effect of maternal attachment and watching TV on the sexual attitude of adolescents depends on the gender of the child, says a new study.
According to the study conducted by Laura Vandenbosch and Steven Eggermont, from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, for girls, a good relationship with their mothers is protective, whereas for boys, a strong attachment to their mothers increases the likelihood that they will have stereotypical sexual attitudes, as portrayed on television.
The researchers, who surveyed 1,026 16-year-olds from nine schools in Belgium, aimed to study whether maternal attachment can buffer television viewing's negative effect on the sexual attitudes of adolescents, and more specifically whether maternal attachment has the same effect for both boys and girls.he study found that on an average, teenagers watched over 23 hours of television a week, or more than three hours a day.
Overall, the boys and girls said that they were rather satisfied with the relationship with their mother, but the higher the level of television viewing, the more boys in particular endorsed a recreational sexual attitude and agreed with stereotypes concerning males' sexual needs and dominance.
Maternal attachment was found to have had a positive influence on adolescents' sexual attitudes, overall, and the more attached an adolescent was to his/her mother, the less he or she had a recreational or stereotypical sexual attitude.
When the influences of television viewing and maternal attachment were combined, maternal attachment had a different effect on the link between television viewing and sexual attitudes for boys and girls.
On the one hand, maternal attachment acted as a buffer against the effects of television viewing among girls, whereas boys, who had a strong attachment to their mothers, were more susceptible to the negative influence television viewing had on these recreational attitudes towards sex and on attitudes towards male sexual obsession.
The study has been published online in Springer's journal Sex Roles.