prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

16 and Not-So-Pregnant

Posted by prof e on January 13, 2014

16 and PregnantFinally some good news about teen pregnancy as reported today in the New York Times. If we can believe a study that is being released today, teen pregnancy is down and one factor may be (drum roll please) the media. Yes, you heard correctly. If the study by the National Bureau of Economic Research is to be believed, teens who watch more of 16 and Pregnant on MTV are less inclined to become teen moms. According to one quote presented in the NYT article, “people just don’t understand how influential media is in the lives of young people.”

The study compared Nielsen ratings and birth records to discover that teenage pregnancy was declining faster in areas with higher ratings for this and similar reality TV shows. The researchers also found that social media activity and internet searches related to contraception also showed positive correlations to broadcasts.

Critics of these types of shows argue that they glamorize teen pregnancy and give tacit approval to risky behavior. Because of the counter-intuitive nature of these findings, this study should be reviewed carefully and replicated by other researchers. If reality TV really is teaching teens what is and isn’t acceptable behavior, there should be more examples of shows that are having a positive effect on this demographic by showing the negative consequences of poor choices.

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