Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Influence of Media on Teen Motherhood

 Photo Source:

So I have been thinking…my last posts have dealt mainly with the expectations and experiences of adult mothers. What about the teen mothers in America? Many adults attribute recent teen pregnancies to the popularity of the MTV television series: 16 and Pregnant, Teen Mom and Teen Mom 2

I began to question the correlation of the shows and the American teen mother rates, and after some research, found some very interesting statistics.
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According to The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, the most common critiques found regarding the effect of the above MTV programs on teen motherhood are that the programs “glamorize” motherhood and encourage young girls to get pregnant due to hopes of landing a spot on the show. However, a 2010 public opinion poll of over 1000 teens conducted by Social Science Research Solutions (, concluded that shows about teenage motherhood and pregnancy actually:
  • “Help teens better understand the challenges of pregnancy and parenting” 82% Agree
  • “[Make teens] think more about [their] own risk of getting pregnant/causing a pregnancy and how to avoid it”  80% Agree Strongly/Somewhat 
  • "Stories and events in TV shows and other media about sex, love, and relationships can be a good way to start conversations with adults about these topics.” 76% Agree Strongly/Somewhat
  • How often would you say you and your parents have talked about sex, love, and relationships because of something you saw in popular media (like television shows)? 47% Often/Sometimes
Video Source:  16 & Pregnant  YouTube 

When considering this data, one is able to see several positive effects the MTV programs 16 and Pregnant, Teen Mom, and Teen Mom 2 have had on the prevention of teenage motherhood through the increased of awareness of the challenges of teen pregnancy and use of birth control. The programs have acted as a way to begin and increase conversations between parents and their teens  regarding sex, pregnancy and utilization of birth control. Shows like 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom offer an arguably accurate view of the trials and tribulations faced by American teen mothers. 

Below is an overview of other teen motherhood media featured events.

Photo Source:  OK! Magazine

Jamie Lynn Spears was a popular Nickelodeon star headlining the show Zoey 101.  She was 16 when she and her newborn were profiled on the cover of OK! Magazine. 

Click below to view a segment from Spears' show Zoey 101.

Video Source:  Zoey 101 "Boys vs. Girls" clip.

 Photo Source: 
Juno is a critically acclaimed film that focused on an independent teen and her unplanned pregnancy.  Watch the official film trailer by clicking HERE.

Photo Source:  ABC Family


The Secret Life of the American Teenager is telecast by ABC Family.  The story line focuses on Amy, an unwed teen mom and her family and friends.  Amy loses her virginity at summer band camp and soon learns that she is pregnant.  The series has just completed its' fifth year season. Watch the original series trailer from 2008 below.  

Video Source:  The Secret Life of the American Teenager trailer 

While many parents continue to worry about the media influencing  young teens in terms of glamorizing pregnancy and motherhood, teen pregnancy rates have fallen dramatically. According to, American, teen pregnancy rates have been “declining rapidly”. The title of the article “U.S. Teen Pregnancy Rates at an All-Time Low Across All Ethnicities” by Michelle Castillo reports these findings. America has experienced a record 44% decrease in the number of teen pregnancies from 1991 to 2010. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) accredit this drop to “effective use [of] prevention messages” (Casillo, 2012). For more details regarding the nation-wide decline of diverse ethnic teens experiencing motherhood, check out the complete article by clicking HERE.

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