Does MTV Promote or Prevent Teen Pregnancy?

16 & pregnant

teen mom 1

The New York Times released some information from a study in an article yesterday talking about how the shows 16 & Pregnant and Teen Mom have helped to decline the teen pregnancy rate in the United States.

The article was quoted as saying "A new economic study of Nielsen television ratings and birth records suggests that the show she [Kailyn Lowry] appeared in, "16 and Pregnant," and its spinoffs may have prevented more than 20,000 births to teenage mothers in 2010."

That fact seems astounding, but when you look at the numbers, that's roughly 6600 births a year,. The Office of Adolescent Health states that in 2012, there were 305,420 babies born to females in the 15 to 19 year old age group.

That means that Teen Mom would only account for a decline of around 2% of the births in the United States.

Although any decline in the teen pregnancy rate is a good thing, we also need to think about different factors that might be playing in to the decline.

For starters, many schools are getting rid of abstinence only sex education classes, which means that students will learn about birth control, condoms, and other forms of contraceptives during school hours.

The conversation about birth control options seems to be a more open topic of discussion now, and there are more clinics that are willing to give contraceptive without needing the teen to have parental consent.

We also need to think about the reality of reality television. We know that the struggles seem to be more realistic in 16 & Pregnant episodes. The girls are young, financially unstable, and not guaranteed a large MTV paycheck for their one hour time slot.

Then, the Teen Mom spin offs seem to cause some controversy among viewers.

We see the girls carrying new Coach purses, buying new vehicles, buying nice homes, and they are hardly filmed working.

There have been accounts of girls getting pregnant on purpose in order to try and get on the show, which would lead some to assume that the show isn't preventing, but causing teen pregnancy.

I'm torn on the issue, to be honest.

I'm not sure if it helps more than it harms, but I will have to say than any decline is a good one.

What do you think? Does the show help to allow teenagers to witness the struggles of parenting, or does it glamorize teen pregnancy?


Ya... They didn't do shit. They just want to try to take credit for something they didn't do. Look at what some of these girls have done to try to stay in the limelight. They've had girls on the show who supposedly got pregnant on purpose to get on the show. I'm not saying all teens see this show as a way to get in the limelight, but a 16 year old brain doesn't think the same as an adults does. My teen sister and her friends don't even watch it, it seems to be the vast majority of viewers are 20+.

HAHA, I just came to this site to send someone the link to the NYT article, hoping someone would write about it. THANK YOU!

I think it's one of those things that are going to scare some girls away and attract other girls to parenthood. Personally I saw 16 & Pregnant for the first time online when I was first pregnant with my son and it scared the crap out of me(even though I was a LITTLE older than they were 18, engaged before we got pregnant, with both of us working, and our own place). It had me rethinking if I could be a mom. With that said I've watched Teen Mom then ended up with baby fever afterwards. Honestly(sadly not many people can deny it) if I was told at 16 that I was guaranteed a spot on a show like Teen Mom(more than 1 season lol TM3) I probably would get pregnant on purpose seeing all the fame, money and lifestyle they live. Now at 23 I've grown up a little, know better and look at the long term picture. At 16 girls do not think very rational only at the immediate picture. I can see shows like 16 & Pregnant helpful if the parents sit down with their teens when watching it and point out these girls were very lucky but most will never see that kind of money in their lifetime, and point out how almost none are still with their child's father and point out those struggles. Also point out how many girls try out for the show and how few get selected. It would have been better if MTV just did a yearly update on the girls vs a whole series.

I would love to take MTV into my house and show them a young mom without their money to see where we end up just a few short years later. Im very lucky and one of the few that is married to my babies father, we now have our 4 year old and a 2 year old(both boys), not alot of money much functional. Show MTV what a typical day really looks like!

Sorry for posting in wrong spot, I thought it would go in its on thread lol

My daughter has almost the exact same birthday as Sophia. So she was maybe six months old or so when the episodes of 16 and Pregnant aired. I thought it was pretty true to life. Had I watched it before I was pregnant, I don't know what I would have thought. Btw, I was 27. It was probably Teen Mom that it started getting ridiculous. No way is that how you live when you don't work and just dump your kid at your parents every weekend.

I don't think it helps prevent teen pregnancy one bit. Seriously, it's not like pregnancy and birth control wasn't discussed before 16 & Pregnant, and there are a lot of confounding variables as to why the birth rate could have dropped.

On the other hand, I also don't think it really encourages girls to get pregnant to a significant extent... save the girls who are clearly getting pregnant to be on the show.

I watch it because it's unfortunately entertaining. I can not imagine anyone watches it for the message it is supposed to send.

I watch it to make me feel better about my own parenting :)

There are MANY places where pregnancy and birth control are not discussed. There are MANY places in the US where teachers aren't even ALLOWED to talk about it with their students! Look it up! It's unfortunately way too prevalent, especially in the said "bible belt".

;) I am more than aware of this, as I think most are... perhaps I should I have worded my post differently. I am saying Teen Mom and 16 &Pregnant aren't doing anything PSAs and such haven't done in the past to reach the same general audience.

I agree about bible belt not being allowed to talk about BC. Nobody in my school has ever brought up BC to us, and the only time is ever been talked about (when I was around) was when a girl in our class got something in her arm (I can't remember the name, it was one of the weird ones to me) and our teacher raised about that one type. As a junior in HS, I've never heard anything about sex ed, or preventing pregnancy. I guess they think, despite 20 girls getting pregnant since I've started HS, that we're just not going to have sex! I however said I don't want any kids, any time soon, because that same teacher told us about her labor (one of the girls was asking, she was 9 months pregnant and was a little scared.) Maybe even I'm married! And not 16

How can you post an article about these girls living it up in NYC and then ask if the show glamorizes teen pregnancy? Of course it does. Without MTV would Kailyn, Leah, or Jenelle ever have had the opportunity to do that? Chelsea, maybe. But not the other girls. I would bet every dollar to my name that every girl on the new cycle of 16 and Pregnant conceived on purpose with the hope that they would be rich and famous. The sad thing is that there are hundreds of other girls who will do the same thing, only instead of going to the bank to cash an MTV check they'll be at the grocery store using their WIC check.

That last sentence.

For the record, I wasn't trying to be insulting. Just an observation. But thank you!

Oh no, I didn't take it that way. That last sentence perfectly sums up the reality of these girls futures who look to 16 & pregnant as a way to become "famous" and/or make a lot of money.

This show definately doesnt show the hardships of parenting. By the time the girls get on teen mom they have waaaay more than most people, let alone teen parents. How many people that don't have a college education can afford the things these girls can??

It shows the hardships of having a douchey baby daddy more than it shows the hardships of having a kid.

It would be more useful if the a lot of the girls didnt have 2-3 kids by now. Obviously it isn't so bad to be a teen parents - they were eager for baby #2!


THANK YOU! Just because you're 20 doesn't make you mature or ready for another child. These girls/adam are still so stupid and immature.

Right! I hate when they say well I'm not a teenager anymore or well I'm married now. Just because you just got married or turned 20 doesn't mean you should have another baby.

They promote it. I was a sophomore in college when I started watching this show and would sometimes find myself daydreaming about what it would be like to have a baby and be a cast member. Never in a million years would I have ever wanted to get pregnant as a teenager, but still, just the fact that I even thought about it demonstrates to me that this show glamorizes getting pregnant as a teen to an extent.

I think it's more the fact that they get a platform to share their life on television, and there is something that is kind of appealing about that, even though they do not control what is seen.

But you were smart enough to realize that getting knocked up wouldn't get you on the show.

I think that it promote it that's why there are new seasons of 16 & Pregnant if it would of worked the way they thought it would of it would of stop after they showed the first set of girls but everyone is seeing how the girls got famous and don't have to work because they can get what ever they want because MTV pays for there life styles and want to be the next one to get easy money for having a baby at a young age

I agree

Of course it glamorizes teen pregnancy! I honestly feel like the girls on these shows purposely get pregnant now for the fame, money and all the material things that come along with it. Look at how many different cars janelle and maci had before they were even 21. Look at leah and Amber being able to buy their own home before they're even 25. What kind of teen mothers in this day and age. Would be able to do any of that on their own without any kind of college degree or a decent job?

I feel that if the teen mom girls' intentions were really to lower the teen pregnancy rate, then they should volunteer to do the show, and not be paid for it. Maybe the money from the show could go to a teen pregnancy organization instead? But with the large sums of money these women make, it is hard to believe that their intentions are to truely prevent teen pregnancy, and not to just get some extra cash and publicity. Most of the women on the show talk about how hard it is to be a young mother, yet go on to have multiple children... it just doesnt add up. I dont believe that those are their true intentions. But as I said earlier, take away the money and lets see how many of these girls still volunteer to do the show.

They practically did volunteer at first. They made $10,000 a year in the year season. That's hardly even a part time job wage. But I agree with what you're saying, they should KEEP doing it at little to no money to keep their message genuine.

If MTV only aired 16&P and then did once yearly updates on the girls then I'd say they were doing something to prevent it. If you watch the updates on the girls who didn't go on to do Teen Mom, you'd see that most of these girls are struggling.

Teen Mom, with it's high salaries definitely glamorizes teen pregnancy and parenthood. 16 and pregnant on its own could have been a valuable asset, but then MTV had to mess it up by throwing boat loads of money and fame at idiots like Farrah and Janelle.

That's what I've argued all along. 16 and Pregnant does a great job of showing the hardships of being a young parent. We saw girls who had to drop out of school, get crappy minimum wage jobs to buy diapers, were dumped by their boyfriends. I don't think that in any way glamorizes teen pregnancy. The problem, like many others are pointing out, is with Teen Mom. Once the girls started getting paid so much they could live in a nice house/apartment, buy a trendy car, not work, and not pursue an education, all of the good work 16 and Pregnant did was negated. Not to mention the fact that many of the girls are frequently discussed in magazines, on non-Teen Mom TV, and gossip blogs. They are seen as celebrities now!

I quite agree

First and foremost I have not been here since the summer when we were all so rudely abandoned by our host, stevebeans. I popped by today after reading the NYT article only to see a *new* writer and a well-written and researched article, and several other *new* articles beneath it which I have yet to read. So Bravo, thank you for the timely piece!

As far as this article goes, I think that 16 & Pregnant is a good deterrent to teen pregnancy as it does show the struggles of new teen parents fairly accurately. Most of those girls are forced to quit school, quickly abandoned by the baby's daddy, and are abandoned by their friends, all of which really happen to real teen mothers. Teen Mom 1, 2, and 3 reverse this message by showing the girls making money off of those unplanned pregnancies and so should not get credit for lowering the birth rate. Unless they are counting that Todd guy who used to come here who swore off all American women after watching the show. ;)

Unfortunately what this show demonstrates is that often, the people who get pregnant at 16, are not all of that smart or mature, even after they claim to have had "to grow up fast," and seem to be stubbornly so.

Therefore, this show will only speak to those who were wise or mature enough in the first place not to get with douchey guys and have babies, and not do much for those who most of the girls that end up in those situations.

I personally know teenagers who got pregnant because they watched Teen Mom and didn't understand that the girls were living off TV money and not the money they make at their minimum wage jobs. I understand that having cameras have to follow you around can prevent employers from hiring these girls (the justification I've heard for paying them), but if they wanted to do any good they'd only pay the girls the money they'd make at a real job and then put money away for the kids that their parents can't touch.

MTV has trust funds for all the kids on the show that their parents can't access. It's surprising how many people don't realize that!

Well, we don't realize that because we don't hear of it. That's good, though, these poor kids. Haha. At least they're getting something out of this.

It is interesting to me, though, that whenever these girls wants a little job, they can get one so easily, even if they're so very unqualified. We watched Leah in one of the episodes be like "Oh, I think I'll get a job." She applies to one job, gets an interview, doesn't do very well at it, and shows she knows very little," and gets the job right away. I think MTV somehow has made it easier for some of these girls to get employed . Granted, we're only talking about low-level jobs, of course.

I'm just looking at the picture, surprised at the fact that I'd forgotten that Farrah was actually quite pretty before she paid to have her face transformed into a horse.

Yes she was. It's very sad, but, like I've said, I guess now she is just in the process of getting her outsides (appearance) to match her insides (personality) - fake, and ugly.

Hahaha very true!

Pretty sure I might be the only one who thinks this way, but I NEVER watched the show and wanted to be like them. I didn't want a baby before the show. And after watching Leah's decline into sluttism and Maci being dumped by the guy who everyone thought (at first) she'd end up with, I wasn't anymore interested in having a child. It might be just because I don't really like a lot of the girls on these shows, and not neccesarily because of the literal anti-pregnancy themes, but I just don't think it seems glamorous to be like them. Really? Is anyone actually looking up to Kailyns selfish hypocritical self? Or Maci's nasty booziness? If they are then they were already effed up and MTV can't really be blamed for that. Just my opinion though.

See, and that's where I think, that the show isn't doing much of anything for anyone - for girls who have similar personalities and situations as the girls on television, it probably justifies or glamorizes it for them, but for people like you who were wise enough in the first place, look at the show and are like "Well, duh. These girls have their priorities kinda mixed up. No wonder they're getting into so much drama."

I think 16 and pregnant helps, not teen mom. The only way teen mom would have really worked is if the girls weren't allowed to touch the money until the whole series ended. I don't think they should have "worked for free" or volunteered, because that's ridiculous, but the money should have gone into an account or something they couldn't touch until the last season aired.

16 and Pregnant I think was intended to be a little more documentary style, which I like, but Teen Mom is straight up reality show - with all kinds of fakeness and control for storylines and plots, etc.

This show is the sole reason I got on birth control. I was not paying attention or caring until after I saw the first few episodes of Teen Mom season 1. I was 18 then and have been on it ever since (I'm 23 now). I don't see how anybody could watch these shows and think their lives look appealing. Even when they started getting the money, makeovers and nice houses in the later seasons, their lives were still a mess.

I know, it all depends on what people see when they watch. "Oh they have lots of money and lots of fans to 'support' every silly decision they make, and to complain about their baby daddy's with, and something to blame every problem from here on out on." But other people will see "Oh wow, that is so much delusion, and drama, strife, and avoidable complication. What a mess."

I saw a graph accompanying this "news", and while the rate certainly dropped quite a bit when 16 & Pregnant first aired, it has been steadily growing ever since. The latter seasons of Teen Mom haven't portrayed teenage motherhood as anything close to reality, and I think that's obvious to viewers, no matter how vested they are in the show. What teenage mother can afford breast implants? Further, how many teen moms end up getting paid a million dollars to do porn?
I agree that the increased availability of birth control and emphasis on sex education probably has had more to do with the dropping teenage pregnancy rate than any MTV show.
I will say one thing that concerns me about this show and about some of the commercials promoting certain birth control measures (most notably Plan B) is that they do not warn against the possibility of STDs. That hasn't been highlighted enough in the show, even though Kailyn, Jo, and Jordan passed a little something between each other. We saw Chelsea and Adam using the pull out method and worry about pregnancy, but no mention of worry about STDs (and who knows where Adam's dingaling has been?). Teenage pregnancy is only part of teenage sexual health.

16 and pregnant prevents it, it shows the genuine struggles they are and will face due to being pregnant young. Teen mom however, glamorizes it! It shows girls who got pregnant, got a hell of a lot richer than what they would have .. I mean a lot of them are home owners/have ipohones/new laptops/go on holidays regularly/have nice cars etc .. it annoys me that im 20, soon to be 21, so sane age as TM2 girls, I have been working for 2 years after my education, and i can't afford all that stuff .. so yeah it promotes it, basically if i had gotten on the show, i would have more money and a child now... not working to pay bills and waiting until i can afford a child .. HOW RESPONSIBLE OF ME.