Popular MTV shows “16 and pregnant”, and “Teen Mom” has been on air since 2009 urging teens to practice safe sex or abstinence in order to prevent teen pregnancy. The show consists of following teen mothers and their stressful journeys involving problems with relationships, school, and social life as an aftermath of having a baby. According to a study released by the National Bureau of Economic Research on Monday, these shows has help cut down the rate of teen pregnancy down to half.
In an earlier interview, an MTV spokesperson told NBC News, “Teen birth rates in the U.S. are at historic lows and many experts have cited the ‘Teen Mom’ franchise as contributing to that decline. Since the show’s first debut in 2009, fewer than 30 out of 1,000 teen U.S. girls gave birth in 2012 compared to almost 62 in 1991. The study also estimated “16 and Pregnant” to have led to a 5.7 percent reduction in teen births.
Phillip Levine, co-author of the study said “This is sex education for the 21st century. This is a show that very clearly exemplifies what life is going to be like in the aftermath of having a baby at such a young age”. MTV uses this show as a documentary of real teens facing the real problems of a teen pregnancy. Based on the difficult experiences that these teen moms face on national TV, this has led viewers to realize the difficulty of a teen pregnancy if not prevented. The more episodes that these teens watch the more they understand and see the hard pressures of a teen pregnancy.
“16 and Pregnant”, and “Teen Mom” has started trends such as more internet searches and tweets on contraceptives, abortion and abstinence in the teenage community. The shows have gotten teenage viewers to think about the consequences of an expected teen pregnancy. It has also helped the viewers gain more knowledgeable with different kinds of protection and contraceptives Despite some of the criticism, MTV has helped teens understand the message of the risks a teen pregnancy can bring and parenthood by continuing to air these shows.