Friends powerful sex-education tool says study
November 4, 2003
LOS ANGELES — A study of the hit television comedy "Friends" has found it to
be a powerful tool for sex education for youngsters.
The study, released Monday by the nonprofit research group Rand
Corp., polled 500 youngsters who had watched an October 2001 show
in which the character Rachel, portrayed by actress Jennifer
Aniston, becomes pregnant after having sex with ex-boyfriend Ross,
played by David Schwimmer.
Ross expresses surprise, noting that he had used a condom. Twice
during the episode, characters say that condoms are "only 97-per-
The episode was watched by 1.67 million 12- to 17-year-olds, the
study said, citing Nielsen Media Research information.
The study found that most viewers remembered the episode
contained information about condom effectiveness and that teen
viewers who watched with an adult or discussed the episode with an
adult were about twice as likely as others to remember the correct
information about condoms.
Viewers also remembered the lessons six months later, according
to the study in the November edition of the journal Pediatrics.
"We've always known that teenagers get useful information about
sex from factual reporting and advice-oriented media, but now we
know they can get this information from entertainment television
programmes as well," said Rebecca Collins, a RAND psychologist and
lead author of the report. "That's important because entertainment
programmes, especially highly rated ones like 'Friends', reach many
Among teens who recalled viewing the episode, 65 per cent
remembered that it involved a condom failure that caused a
About half the teenage viewers interpreted the episode as
showing that "lots of times condoms don't prevent pregnancy".
"Our study suggests that if more shows included a message about
responsible sexual behaviour and what the risks are in having sex,
we might have fewer problems with teen pregnancy and sexually
transmitted diseases," Collins said. –Sapa-DPA
Jim in Bold, life as a gay teen in America