Slightly more than half of Gen Z adolescents want to see more platonic relationships or friendships in movies and TV as opposed to romance or sex scenes, a UCLA Center for Scholars & Storytellers (CSS) study titled “Teens and Screens” found.
The CSS, based in the UCLA Psychology Department, surveyed 1,500 adolescents ages 10-24 to find these results in addition to three other main findings listed in the study. The age range of 10-24 is referred to as the period of extended adolescence — a critical point in life when young people sharpen their sense of identity through interpreted cues from culture and environment.
Only 15.2% of the surveyed teens disagreed with the majority’s preference for friendship over romantic relationship-centered content. 33.3% of the young people — including younger, middle and older adolescents, gender non-conforming adolescents, POC adolescents and LGBTQIA+ adolescents — remained neutral to the question.
These statistics arrive on the tail end of a summer dominated by Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie,” the continued run of “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” at the box office and before the upcoming “Renaissance” concert documentary that Beyoncé plans to release in December through AMC.
Other key results of the study center around adolescent viewing habits, how Gen Z views shift as they age up and the success of social media, particularly TikTok.
More specific reportings for the romance vs. nomance section of the study revealed that a near majority (44.3%) of adolescents felt that romance in the media is overused, 39% want to see more aromantic and/or asexual characters on screen and 47.5% of the surveyed population said that sex “isn’t needed for the plot of most TV shows and movies.”
Adolescents “are also rejecting the dominating portrayal of traditional heteronormative relationships, and are calling for more diverse types of relationships in media” according to the findings.
A majority (56%) of adolescents prefer original content versus franchises, adaptations, remakes and other IP-based content. Only 10.5% of adolescents prefer to consume aspirational stories about rich and famous people.
As Gen Z ages up, their views on the American Dream and who they want to see as the hero of stories change. Social media is still voted the most authentic media platform, with TikTok specifically dominating within the category.
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