But after the show became a hit (episodes can draw up to two million viewers), parents and educators worried that glamorized teen pregnancy.“Only 40 percent of teenage mothers ever graduate high school; two-thirds of families begun by an unmarried teen mother are poor. It shows how cool teen pregnancy is with a new reality series,” one review of the show by the Media Research Center, which offers a guide for appropriate television to parents, reads.And the fact that many of the show’s stars become celebrities in their own right — gracing the cover of People magazine — doesn’t hurt the impression that having a child while in high school is one way to get attention.
A typical episode of the show follows the new moms a they fight with the fathers of their children (many of whom have now left them), fight with their parents (who are usually supporting them), struggle financially, struggle to finish their degree and watch their friends enjoy prom and college without them.
Yet some suspected even star Janelle Evans’ friends had gotten pregnant within a year of Evans starring on the show.
Nobody knows whether these friends purposely became pregnant to follow in Evans’ footsteps and potentially garner media attention, but clearly Evans did not serve as the cautionary tale she was supposed to be even to her closest friends.
Births to teen moms have been steadily dropping since 1991, down 44 percent in nine years, according to the CDC.
Rates dropped nine percent from 2009 to 2010 alone, reaching a historic low of 34.3 births per 1000 women aged 15-19.
Considering that Monday and conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research, asserts that the popular show reduced teen births by nearly six percent just in 2010.
But a different study conducted by researchers at Indiana University published Thursday found the opposite to be true: 16 and Pregnant and its spinoff show, , lead viewers to think that teen mothers have an enviable quality of life.
So which is it: do these MTV shows encourage or discourage teen pregnancy?
Or are they having no effect at all since determining the link between media and behavior is almost impossible to do?
was originally designed by MTV to show viewers (mostly young women) what life as a pregnant teen was really like.
Every time the show airs, MTV promotes a website called Stay that “encourage[s] you to enjoy your teen years and avoid the responsibilities that come with too-early pregnancy and parenting.” The site provides information about birth control, STDs and dating abuse.