Based on the Centre for Scholars & Storytellers’ recent “Teens and Screens” research at UCLA, which involved 1,500 Gen Z members between the ages of 10 and 24, young people preferred more accessible stories that focused on platonic relationships rather than sexual themes. Note that the question about sensitive content was limited to participants between the ages of 13 and 24. Teenagers chose to watch “lives like their own” on television, which meant less romance. Adolescents believe that “sex and sexual content is not needed for the plot of most TV shows and movies,” according to 48% of them, and 51.5 percent of them would prefer to see more material that emphasizes platonic connections and friendships.
Co-author of the study and founder and director of CSS, Dr. Yalda T. Uhls, stated, “While it’s true that adolescents want less sex on TV and in movies, what the survey is really saying is that they want more and different kinds of relationships reflected in the media they watch. We know that young people are suffering an epidemic of loneliness and they’re seeking modeling in the art they consume. While some storytellers use sex and romance as a shortcut to character connection, it’s important for Hollywood to recognize that adolescents want stories that reflect the full spectrum of relationships.”
Referring to her generation as a whole, CSS youth engagement manager Stephanie Rivas-Lara is also one of the study’s first authors. She remarked, “As a member of Gen Z myself, I wasn’t surprised by some of what we’re seeing this year. She remarked, “As a member of Gen Z myself, I wasn’t surprised by some of what we’re seeing this year. There has been a wide-ranging discourse among young people about the meaning of community in the aftermath of COVID-19 and the isolation that came with it. Adolescents are looking to media as a ‘third place’ where they can connect and have a sense of belonging — and with frightening headlines about climate change, pandemics, and global destabilization, it makes sense they are gravitating towards what’s most familiar in those spaces.”