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Teen Mom on MTV: New Study Reveals Whether it Prevents or Glamorizes Teen Pregnancy

Helpful or harmful programming?

I admit, I love 16 and Pregnant and its spawn, Teen Mom. I’m embarrassed by that fact, would rather admit my other TV guilty pleasure, The Real Housewives, but there it is.

I’ve often wondered how the popularity of these pregnancy shows on MTV has affected this generation of teenagers. If these shows had been around when I was a teen would I have been more inclined to use birth control because they show the dirty reality of being a teen mom? Or do teens tend to think being on TV is supercool regardless of the reasons why?

As Jezebel.com reports, a new study finally has a definitive answer on how this pregnant programming is affecting teens. Yep, someone has finally conducted a study on whether or not these shows glamorize pregnancy or help prevent it. Here’s what they found out:

Paul Wright, a professor at Indiana University who conducted the study  found that the shows do both. “On one hand, the programs do show many of the difficulties teen mothers face. But on the other hand, they sometimes seem to send the message that getting pregnant was all for the best,” says Wright. “The hypothesis driving our study was that the family background of the viewer might determine whether they focused on the negatives or the positives.”

Wright studied 313 female undergrads, specifically focusing on their relationships with their fathers. He found that those whose fathers communicated openly with them about sex were more likely to “attend to the negatives of being a young mother depicted on 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom.”

But a mother’s relationship with her daughter is equally important.  As Jezebel reports, “This doesn’t mean that mother-daughter communication is irrelevant. There are other studies showing that the more moms communicate about sex, the less likely it is their daughters will either have sex or engage in risky sex.”

So what it all boils down to is your communication with your teen. You have way more influence over your kids than reality television. Who woulda thunk it? But yeah, the study, which will be published in the journal Sexuality & Culture, concludes that the more you communicate with your teenagers the more likely they are to appropriately perceive teen pregnancy and motherhood as a negative.

Yet another reason to openly discuss sex and birth control with our kids, right?

You can also find Monica on her personal blog, The Girl Who.

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