Media and Teen Pregnancy

When it comes to the media and teen pregnancy there can be no question there is a connection. This article explores the effects of several types of media and their impact on teen pregnancy including television and teen pregnancy, celebrities and teen pregnancy, and movies and teen pregnancy.

Television and Teen Pregnancy

That there is a connection between sexualized media, specifically television programming, and teen pregnancy has been known for several years. Glamorization of sex has the effects of encouraging teens to engage in sex earlier, and leads to less than consistent use of contraception. In addition, the more television with sexual content that teens watch, the more likely they are to become pregnant in their teens, according to research reported by the Rand Corporation in 2008.

But things have changed since that research was undertaken, with many more explicit references to teen pregnancy, as well as shows about teens who are engaging in sex as part of the show concept. "The Secret Life of the American Teen," a scripted show which - whatever it's overarching purpose - is focused on teens having sex, often with multiple partners and without protection, began airing in July, 2008 on ABC Family, and has proved extremely popular with teenage girls.

"16 and Pregnant," a reality show on MTV, started on June 11, 2009, with the spin-off "Teen Mom" beginning on December 8, 2009, and the spin-off "Teen Mom 2" starting on January 11, 2011. According to a review in the New York Times, the series seems geared to prove that having a child leads to character development opportunities.

Celebrities and Teen Pregnancy

Recent celebrity pregnancies, including those of Jamie Lynn Spears, Brittany Spears' younger sister, and Bristol Palin, daughter of vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin are well-covered in the media and many tend to glorify teen pregnancy. The fact that Palin appeared on "Dancing with the Stars" and reportedly receives between $15,000 and $30,000 for speaking engagements - hardly the typical after effect of a teen pregnancy, and certainly making it much easier for her to cope with the demands of raising a child than 99.99% of teen parents.

Movies and Teen Pregnancy

The CEO of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, Sarah Brown, said in 2008 in response to the release of the movie Juno that she believes it makes teen pregnancy seem much easier than it actually is. Juno's supportive family, her own maturity, and the fact that she had a baby, handed it off, and went back to her teenage life and her boyfriend, makes it seem that an unplanned teen pregnancy is not such a difficult or disruptive event. In fact, Brown points out, more than 98% of teens who carry a baby to term keep the baby, and so are in a much different situation than Juno, facing issues like poverty and loss of educational opportunities for both the baby's mother and the baby's father, if he chooses to be involved with his child.


Related Article: Parental Support of Pregnant Teens >>