Could it be that an MTV reality show is helping to steer teenage USA in the RIGHT direction?
Forever labeled as making a living from exploiting the trials and tribulations of the teenaged population, MTV’s hit reality series, “16 and Pregnant” might not only be helping to shed a realistic light on just how difficult young motherhood really is, but also helping to make the “sex” conversations between parent and child a little less uncomfortable.
For every action, there is a reaction…and consequence
According to a new government study, teen birth rates dropped dramatically in 2009 after a five percent increase from 2005 to 2007. Many teens have credited MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” with opening their eyes to the real consequences of having unprotected sex and the early parenthood that sometimes results.
In a report released by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, parental influence still remains the most-cited factor by teens for avoiding teen pregnancy.
However, the report also cited the “16 and Pregnant” series, indicating that 82 percent of teens said the show helps them to better understand the challenges of teen pregnancy and parenthood – and most importantly, why they should avoid it.
“I’d rather have a root canal than talk about sex with my teen”
Bill Albert, a spokesperson for the National Campaign said, “Entertainment media is one of the nation’s favorite punching bags, but we have to acknowledge that when we’re talking about teen pregnancies, media can be and often is a force for good and that is particularly true when it comes to shows like ’16 and Pregnant.’”
He went on, “Some critics say these shows glamorize teen pregnancy, but our survey data shows that’s not the case – that not only do they not glamorize it, but teens who have seen it suggest it makes the realities of teen parenthood more real to them.”
To be fair, the new census figures also showed that overall birthrates slowed as the recession and unemployment have taken hold of America over the last three years.
As every parent knows, talking about sex with teenagers is about as pleasant as having a root canal. But perhaps shows like “16 and Pregnant” can serve as a comfortable platform from which to launch discussions about teen sex and early pregnancy.
Said Albert, “What you see on TV, as a parent, isn’t always what you’d want your teen to see, but it does deflect the conversation from ‘What are you doing?’ to more of an abstract, and that can be a good way to start conversations. The fact is, this is not your parents’ sex talk, not a one-time white knuckle conversation, but this should be an 18-year conversation you’re having with your kids.”
“I was appalled when I saw that my daughter was watching that show [“16 and Pregnant”] but when I sat down and watched it with her, it really does not glamorize teenage pregnancy,” said Mary T of Cincinnati. “In fact, it is probably a great form of birth control! And, it helped foster a conversation between my daughter and I on a much more comfortable level because it wasn’t focused on her and what she was doing but rather the girl on the show.”
Do tell: Have you seen MTV’s “16 and Pregnant?” Do you think it shows an unappealing side to teen pregnancy or does it glamorize it?