Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 42, Issue 11, pp 1696–1707 | Cite as

Reciprocal Relationships Between Friends’ and Parental Mediation of Adolescents’ Media Use and Their Sexual Attitudes and Behavior

  • Peter Nikken
  • Hanneke de Graaf
Empirical Research


Research has argued that adolescents are at risk for harmful effects of sexual media, but little is known about the role of parents and friends on adolescents’ media use in regard of these effects. The present two-wave study investigated whether prior parental and friends’ influences on adolescents’ use of sexual media shape their sexual attitudes and behaviors, and vice versa if prior sexual attitudes and behaviors predict parental and friends’ media mediation. At two measurement points 18 months apart, 528 adolescents (12–17 years; 51.3 % girls) reported on permissive sexual attitudes, sexual experience, perceived parental and friends’ mediation of sexual media use, and communication with parents and friends about sex. Structural Equation Modeling shows that parents’ mediation activities on adolescents’ media use were not followed by less sexual experience and less permissive attitudes. On the contrary, parental restrictive mediation of girls’ media use unexpectedly was followed by somewhat more sexual experience. Friends’ interventions with media use did not predict adolescents’ sexual experience and attitudes neither. Inverse relationships showed that prior sexual experience was followed by less restrictive parental mediation among boys, and both among boys and girls that permissive sexual attitudes were followed by less restrictive and less active parental mediation. At the same time, sexually more experienced and more permissive boys and girls did report more media pressure from and sexual communication with their friends later on. Our study thus indicates that the opposite agent roles of parents and friends for adolescents also applies to their usage of sexual media.


Adolescents Sexual behavior Permissive sexual attitudes Media guidance Parents Friends 



This work was supported by a grants from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science ( and the Fund for Scientific Research of Sexuality, The Netherlands (

PN conceived of the study, participated in its design, measurement, coordination, and the interpretation of the data, and drafted the manuscript. HG conceived of the study, participated in its design, measurement, and interpretation of the data, and performed the statistical analysis and helped to draft the manuscript. Both authors read and approved the final manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Erasmus University RotterdamRotterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Netherlands Youth InstituteUtrechtThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Rutgers WPFUtrechtThe Netherlands

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