'16 and Pregnant': As good for kids as it is addictive to watch

16-and-pregnant-2As MTV’s 16 and Pregnant gets ready to start a new season Oct. 26, a new study (full results here) from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy shows that the gritty reality series does not, as some critics have insisted, “glamorize” teen pregnancy. In fact, in a national poll of teenagers, 82 percent of those who watched the show said it helps them understand how hard teen pregnancy is and how to avoid it, while 76 percent said such shows help them talk to their parents about sex. (About half said they actually did talk to their parents about sex because of something they saw in the media.) A separate study investigated discussion groups about the show at Boys and Girls Clubs of America and found that 40 percent talked about the show with a parent, 63 percent discussed it with a friend, and 37 percent discussed it with a sibling.

It’s harder to remember the good that 16 and Pregnant, along with its big-sister show Teen Mom, are doing when you see the constant gossip-mag stories about their “stars” (or when, perhaps, you see famous teen mom Bristol Palin on Dancing With the Stars). But that doesn’t take away from the fact that the MTV hits continue to hammer home, week after week, the gritty realities of having a kid too young. These numbers prove the glamorization argument doesn’t hold up — despite what other media are doing to muddle the message.

Comments (14 total) Add your comment
  • CharlieD

    I was actually worried, after seeing some of the comments from people at mtv dot com, that people would not get the point that teen pregnancy is not something that should be admired or encouraged. A lot of the comments I saw were something like “I love [teen mom's name] and I think the baby is SOOO CUTE!” and I was afraid that they all completely missed the point.

    I’m really glad I’m wrong, though.

  • Amy

    I completely disagree with the thought that Teen Mom or 16 and Pregnant “glamorize” teen pregnancy. The only thing that can really be argued is that teen pregnancy can now lead to TV fame and some girls may take that the wrong way. The bottom line of the show is to portray how hard these girls’ lives are now that they got pregnant and either had the baby or gave it up for adoption. I think it is one of the best shows MTV has ever produced. The show has so much heart and there are many lessons to be learned from watching it. If I had a teenager I would definitely take time to watch it with them and discuss.

  • AN

    As a high school teacher, I have heard first hand how this show “scares straight” some of the kids from having sex or at the very least, practice safe sex. I think this show is great birth control for teens and some young adults.

  • Diana

    One of my cousins (about 14 years old) watches 16 & Pregnant, and I think it scares the crap out of her. I hope the shock of what being a young mom entails doesn’t ever wear off for her.

  • laura

    The first time I saw this show, I was mocking the pregnant teens and rolling my eyes about ‘ how happy we are going to be ‘ bla bla bla … but it turn out that it was really a wake up call for teens. I actually enjoy this show and tell my niece to pay attention. That none of those girls are actually going to have a ‘ wonderful, happy, full live’ with the guy that won’t be there to father the child.

  • TQB

    I don’t know how you could watch the latest episode of Teen Mom and come away with anything but despair for these kids.

    • MICHELLE

      THIS!!! I was watching the last episode and I keep repeating “you poor girl”

  • It’s a fact

    Unfortunately, this show and the following “Teen Mom” are must watch TV not only to show how hard life is for these young girls and boys but it all shows how horrible these people really are. There seems to be very little redeeming value for these teens – abusive, foul-mouthed, careless, and heartless. Sadly, this is Scared Straight hopefully other teen can see the reality that these are not great characters to emulate. I know seeing these girls – I was scared for their babies.

  • Nee Nee

    I think there are positives and negatives to the show. Clearly, some of the moms have gained some notariety/fame out of their bad decisions. But I do have to say that the shows paint a pretty bleak picture of teen pregnancy and the toll it takes on everyone involved. For that, and for the fact that it is causing teens to at least talk about the episodes with their parents, I would say the show is doing exactly what it set out to do. While I wish MTV would actually play videos and be more about music (like it’s name suggests), I don’t mind shows like this.

  • wendy23

    I think they should make this mandatory to watch in schools. This show makes me sad for those poor girls.

  • shayla

    i think that teen pregnetcy snt so bad im and teen parnt myself and i dont let pepole get the best of me at all i walk with my babey grl and if anybody ask i say yes this is my baby girl and i ant inbarest at all to say that when our a teen mother or teen mom or teen dad is hard but you made the chocie to meep the baby thenstand p and be a mom

  • Amber worley

    The first time I watched this show I was really shocked about all the drama and the things that they go through just to have a kid, I did want kids but now I donn’t want any at all.

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