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Some of the earliest, such as Columbia University's were established to provide college students with easily accessible health information and to offer sexual health information.A number of the current sites that focus on sexual health include sections for users to send in questions that a panel of experts will answer.Although a few youth-targeted programs, such as "Dawson's Creek," have recently included gay characters, what some have called "compulsory heterosexuality" prevails.The clash between the media's depiction of sexual relations and the real-life experiences of youth contributes to their difficulties in making healthy sexual decisions.
Unfortunately, current screening devices are as likely to block sites containing information about breast self-exams, for example, as they are to block the many sites depicting bare breasts.
Abortion is a taboo topic, too controversial for commercial television and magazines.
Homosexual and transgendered youth rarely find themselves represented in the mainstream media.
As a result of these efforts, hit shows like "Felicity" have included sensitive portrayals of homosexual youth, have provided explicit lessons in how to put on a condom and have portrayed teenagers postponing sexual intercourse, apparently with no decline in audience interest.
Additionally, magazines such as Teen People and YM have produced excellent articles on such relevant topics as adolescent pregnancy and contraceptives.
Yet, the media seldom have been concerned with the outcome of their ubiquitous sexual lessons. Young people in the United States today spend 6-7 hours each day, on average, with some form of media.