Are TV Shows Contributing to the Increase in Teen Pregnancy?

Many people often stress their moral values to their children. This can range from working hard in school and staying off drugs to using contraceptives to stay in control of their life, but sometimes that message isn’t processed. Today’s teens seem to be interested and probably even influenced by the media’s coverage of teen pregnancy. Watching movies such as Juno and following Jamie Lynn Spears throughout her pregnancy has showed teen pregnancy to be the “it” thing to do. This has probably led to the increase in pregnancies by 3% percent since 2005 (Chandra, 2008) . By making the phenomenon seem more like the thing to do rather than the thing to desist, it’s going to be eminently hard to get teen pregnancies to decrease any time soon.

The shows and movies that teenagers are watching today that cover teen pregnancy make it look glamorous and cool. They do not promote safe sex and they do not show the consequences of these relationships. They do not show the stress, and struggle of what happens after the pregnancy and the struggles of truly being a teen mom. A study of sexual content in the 50 top-grossing films in 1996 found 30 sex scenes in films rated R (13 scenes) through PG (five scenes. (Brown, 2008) Teenagers are at an age where sexual desires are awakened and are difficult to control. When teenagers are constantly receiving messages of the glamor, appeal, and satisfaction that come from sex, they are obviously more likely to pursue having sex.

Today’s teenagers are faced with extreme peer pressure, bullying, and the desire to fit in. Their teenage heroes are music idols, and movie/ tv stars who are having sex, getting pregnant and being thrilled over it. Today’s celebrity teen moms proudly show off their pregnant bellies making it a desired thing. Bringing an infant in the world, unprepared to take care of it emotionally or financially, isn’t on a teenager’s mind that is planning to have sex. Teens need to be educated and shown the real life experience of being a teen mom. Most teens do not see the downside of getting pregnant at a young age. Being pregnant or being a teen mom they can’t just up and go out to the mall or to a football game. Most will have to put off school or college, when their friends are out visiting schools of their choice they will be at home taking care of a baby. The con list goes on but it is hardly ever weighed with the pros of being a teen mom. The media just portrays the easy and glamor aspect of being a pregnant teen and teens need to see the other side before making the decision to have unprotected sex.

The media’s influence on teenager’s sexual behavior needs to be controlled to prevent teen pregnancies. Teens need to be kept away from the sexual messages and the peer pressure to be sexually active. But also they need to learn the facts about sex, from their parents, and from their schools. While their limit to the exposure of the media’s influence can be controlled, they can’t be kept from the influence of their peers. It is essential that they are prepared to stand up to peer pressure with facts and the support of others. (Wells, 2006)

It is important for parents to make sure their teenagers understand all of the consequences of sex. This includes the potential for pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and also the emotional ramifications of physical intimacy. While schools do their best to teach about pregnancy and STDs, a parent must take the responsibility upon educating their child upon themselves. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy offers tips for parents including being clear about your own values and attitudes, talking with teens early and often about sex, knowing your children’s friends, knowing what kids are watching and listening to, and helping teens understand that there are better options for their future than early parenthood. (Albert, 2008) There is a wealth of resources on the web to help parents find the best approach to teaching there teen about sex.

Works Cited

Albert, B. (2008, 11). TV and Teen Pregnancy. Retrieved 04 2010, from Pregnant Pause: http://blog.thenationalcampaign.org/pregnant_pause/2008/11/tv-and-teen-pregnancy.php

Brown, J. (2008). Managing the Media Monster: The Influence of Media. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy , 25.

Chandra, A. (2008). Does Watching Sex on Television Predict Teen Pregnancy? PEDIATRICS , 1047-1054.

Wells, K. (2006). “Peer Pressure”. Retrieved 04 2010, from Healthline.