Are romance novels harming our teens?

As a teenage boy I was an avid reader and I remember devouring any book that came my way. As I developed my reading culture I came across a few romance novels - the raciest being Lace by Shirley Conran. Some of my male teenage friends also read the book as it was a bestseller in those days.

According to one study 71% of romance readers start reading the genre at age 16 years or younger. That’s because teens are naturally curious about sex and romance and these novels are easily accessible.

The romance genre is accountable for 50% of the fiction market. This is obviously quite profitable for publishers. In an effort to take advantage of the teen market, large publishers such as Harlequin have come up with romance titles written for teens.

Is it really harmless?

Is reading a romance novel really a harmless past time for teens? Not so says British author and relationship counselor Susan Quilliam. She’s quoted in Health24 as saying “If readers start to believe the story that romantic fiction offers, then they store up trouble for themselves”.

The article goes on to describe the romance novel as a “potent threat to women’s sexual and emotional health.” Romance novels are accused of promoting unsafe sex and giving the impression that a successful relationship is where the woman relentlessly makes babies. The study revealed that only about 11.5% of romance novels mention condom use.

Romance novels have also been compared to pornography because of their addictiveness and sexually explicit content.

Unrealistic expectations

For a long time romance novels have been criticised for their potential to create unrealistic expectations in their readers which may lead to relationship problems in real life.

A concerned parent may wonder if romance novels may cloud a teen’s ability to deal with real relationships. Would a teen hooked on these addictive books not have a warped romantic view of members of the opposite sex?

One teen, addicted to romance novels, confessed that she wanted to experience the same sexual feelings as the one experienced romantic fiction heroines and as a result she ended up experimenting in sex prematurely.

No parent would want their child to be influenced negatively by other people’s sexual fantasies which are sold under the guise of romance novels.

Read more by Sipho Yanano

How would you feel about your teen reading romance novels? Share with us below.

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.
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