Teen Pregnancy in the Media
Three-quarters of a million teens between the ages of 15 and 19 become pregnant each year; eighty-two percent of those pregnancies are unplanned (“Peer Pressure Facts About Teenage Pregnancy” 1). Most teens that get pregnant do not have the education, money, or support system to raise a child, thus resulting in a poor life for the mother and the child (Wikipedia “Teenage Pregnancy” 3). Teenage pregnancy is a growing issue, especially in the United States, which is very serious because it deals with the life of another human being. More than one-third of all teenage pregnancies in the U.S. end in abortion (“Teen Abortions” 1). Although the overall teenage pregnancy rate is declining, it is higher in the United States than any other country. With teenage pregnancy being one of the most preventable issues in the U.S., millions of lives could be saved each year if we learn how to prevent the issue. Teen pregnancy has always been portrayed in the media, such as in movies and television shows but, recently, the phenomenon of teenage pregnancy has become a growing trend in the media and continues to become more and more popular. The media is exposing this issue more than ever, by having the phenomenon of teenage pregnancy as the main plot and center of movies and TV shows, as well as in magazines, and many people are questioning whether the issue is being addressed in the right way. Specifically, many people are critical of the issue portrayed in MTV’s 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom. MTV’s reality television shows 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom became huge hits for young adults when the shows first aired in 2009. After the premiere of the first season in 2009, the teen birth rate fell significantly in the United States after it had a five percent increase from 2005 to 2008. Although no one can know for sure, this decline may be because 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom are the very first reality shows ever created that star real life teenagers becoming pregnant. 16 and Pregnant follows the lives of teenagers who have just gotten pregnant and the ups and downs of their pregnancies. Teen Mom continues to follow a few of the teens from 16 and Pregnant after they give birth and their new lives as teen moms. In producing these television shows, the creators knew that the age groups that would be viewing the shows the most would be teenagers and young adults, so that is obviously the group of people that they are trying to target. But what is the message that these shows are intending to send? MTV claims that the purpose of creating the television shows is for education entertainment and to make viewers cautious of their decisions by showing how hard and stressful it is to be a teenager and a parent at the same time. Is the common displaying of teenage pregnancy in the media, such as in the television shows 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom, promoting and normalizing teenage pregnancy, or is it discouraging pregnancy among teens? Some authors of scholarly articles argue that the media is promoting and normalizing teenage pregnancy by featuring teen mothers on 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom and magazines, portraying them as celebrities, while other authors believe that the media has done a good job at discouraging teenage pregnancy by showing the stressful, real-life stories of teenage parents. I believe that the displaying of teenage pregnancy shown by the media through 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom on MTV has educated and warned teens about teenage pregnancy effectively, but other forms of the media, such as magazines and tabloids, have used these TV shows to glamorize teenage pregnancy.
In Hollie McKay’s article, “Tabloids Glamorizing Teen Pregnancy By Putting Teen Moms on Covers,” she believes that Tabloids are glamorizing teenage mothers by featuring them on the covers of magazines such as People, US Weekly, and OK!. Some of the teenage mothers from 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom have been featured on the covers of...
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