Imagine youre a parent of a 16 year old daughter and one day she comes to you and tells you she is pregnant. How would you react? How would you handle this situation? If you were able to go back in time before this all happened, how would you try to prevent it? Would you ever consider making your daughter watch the hit show on MTV called 16 and Pregnant? Now what if you are the teen who is pregnant, or you are the one responsible for getting your girlfriend pregnant? How do you tell your parents and family? If you were exposed to the reality of having a baby would you have maybe rethought your actions? New research shows that the hit TV show 16 and Pregnant just might be the key to aiding in the prevention teen pregnancy.
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MTV is known as an entertaining TV station and its shows have been entertaining viewers since 1981. MTV's hit show, 16 and Pregnant first aired in June of 2009 as a new twist to entertainment television. Geared towards teens, the show's popularity caused MTV to release a spin-off called Teen Mom. Teen Mom showcases four teen mothers, off of 16 and Pregnant, who continue their lives with the challenges of being teenage mother. 16 and Pregnant was an instant hit with teen viewers and has been a popular show since it aired last year. It is because of the label "entertainers" that MTV's new hit TV show 16 and Pregnant has come under public scrutiny. Critics and parents feel that 16 and Pregnant is glamorizing teen pregnancy
This show should be defended against public scrutiny because it is proven to help influence teenagers in a positive way. 16 and Pregnant not only shows the hardships of teen pregnancy but also challenges teens to think about the risks of engaging in sexual activities. Hopefully, in the long run the number of teen and unplanned pregnancies will decrease as a result from of teen pregnancy related shows.
The show became popular because it was directed to teens from teens.(need to clarify) Mike Rosst, a journalist for The National Campaign, states that "the show shares the personal stories of teenage girls who are dealing with pregnancy and parents" ("Real Life Lessonsâ€¦").
MTV's 16 and Pregnant is the first show of its kind on television. It hasn't been any longer than in the past five years that teen pregnancy hasâ€¦..not true??? been exposed as acceptable on TV. Not only has teen and unplanned pregnancy become more acceptable in society, it is now a pop-culture staple. Cathy Gulli proves this point by saying "movies like Knocked Up and Waitress, and celebrity moms like Nicole Richie and Jessica Alba, are part of a trend that's sweeping teen cultureâ€¦" ("Suddenly Teenâ€¦"). Women's Studies Professor at York University, Andrea O'Reilly, also agrees saying that "as an idea, teen pregnancy is more socially accepted" ("Suddenly Teenâ€¦"). Gulli writes that "even Grey's Anatomy had a teen pregnancy storyline last year, and just last week so did Gossip Girl" ("Suddenly Teenâ€¦"). For once a show is putting into perspective what being a teen mom is like by "showing them [viewers] the true goings on of raising a child through the first few months, it also helps bring to light the unpleasant parts of pregnancy and childbirth" ( Maji "16 and Pregnant").
Since this show is about teens and trying to help its viewers, who are mostly teens, teens are able to relate. Ambriel Maji feels that the "show portrayed the teen girls in many different lights" ("16 and Pregnant"). It's because the show portrays girls from different parts of the country, different family settingsâ€¦some supportive and some not so much, and different beliefs which every teen can find something to connect with......... develop ideas further!!!
Parents and other critics of the show have come to blame 16 and Pregnant for glamorizing teen pregnancy. They feel that it is wrong that these young teen mothers have become popular for being pregnant. Jo Piazza, writer of "I Took a Nap and the Teen Moms Became Celebrities?" wonders how she "missed out on the moment that teenage moms turned into famous people" ("16 and Pregnant Sobering for Many Teens"). If it weren't for 16 and Pregnant these girls would just be ordinary teenage mothers. However, because of the show they are now in the lime light of pop culture. Since the teen mothers have become "stars", critics feel that MTV is telling teenagers "get pregnant and you too could have your own TV show" ("The Controversy"). It is because of these factors that MTV is seen as glamorizing teen pregnancy.
Since the producers of the show cram the stages of pregnancy, childbirth, and the first few months of parenting into one hour, how can the show, 16 and Pregnant, even be beneficial? 16 and Pregnant starts out with the soon-to-be teen mothers nearly ready to deliver the show, then displays twenty-some hours of labor in a few seconds of pencil animation (Lowry). The teen mother never talks about whether or not she considered abortion or how her parents reacted when they found out, the show just goes straight to the action (Lowry). How can teen viewers get the full idea of being a parent when MTV doesn't show the whole truth?
Lastly, MTV is criticized for creating an acceptance of teen pregnancy. By creating a show about pregnant teens, the show's creators may be sending the message to teens that it isn't a big deal if they become pregnant. It is proven that teens are often influenced by TV. Actually, according to a study conducted by The National Campaign "most teens (79% of girls and 67% of boys) say that when a TV show or character they like deals with teen pregnancy, it makes them think more about their own risk of getting pregnant or causing a pregnancy and how to avoid it" ("Teen Pregnancy"). Parents feel that the popularity of 16 and Pregnant will allow teens to think that teen pregnancy is acceptable. The National Campaign states that "research has found that the sexual content in media can influence teens' attitudes about sex and contraception and may also influence their sexual behavior" ("The National Campaign"). It is because of this statistic that MTV is teaming up with the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy to create viewing guides on 16 and Pregnant. The 16 and Pregnant viewing guides will hopefully allow parents and educators to start discussions with teens encouraging them to make the right decisions when dealing with their sexual health.
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These criticisms are all reasonable and valid to some extent. I do believe that the teen mothers on 16 and Pregnant are becoming famous due to their controversial pregnancies. If it weren't for the show they would just be a group of 16-year-old girls who got pregnant. Along with becoming famous over being pregnant, 16 and Pregnant does not display to viewers everything that goes on when being pregnant. MTV crams the pregnancy, delivery, and aftermath all into an hour. How can a teen get the real idea when so much is left out? However, the majority of research done on this show proves that despite these criticisms, MTV's 16 and Pregnant is beneficial to its teenage audienceâ€¦.interpret the quotes
First of all each episode takes an intimate look inside the challenges of being a pregnant teenager. Each episode starts out with a new teen mother starting from the second trimester and follows through the first few months of the baby's life. Mike Rosst, writer for Pregnancy Pause, says that "the show shares the personal stories of teenage girls who are dealing with pregnancy and parents" ("Real Life Lessons"). It's because of how personal and intimate 16 and Pregnant is that MTV press writer Melissa Barreto, states in her article " with statistics showing that three in ten girls in the U.S. will get pregnant before the age of 20, each episode will take and intimate look inside the challenges of being a pregnant teenager"("MTV Press release").
With statistics showing that 16 and Pregnant is beneficial to its teen viewers, the show could possibly be used as a new way of sex education. Barreto states that "79% of females and 67% of males, report that shows dealing with teen pregnancy make them think about their own risks of getting pregnant or causing pregnancy" ("MTV Press Release"). With that high of a percentage of teenagers being influenced by the show why not try to use it as a way to influence teens to make the right decisions about sex? Barreto also says that "in partnership with MTV, The National Campaign will continue to create viewing guides for each episode so educators, key organizations and individuals can use discussion around sexual health and pregnancy with teens"("MTV Press Release"). Cherly Wetzstein, writer for The Washington Times states that "these stories are so heart-rending that 'one could make the argument that these are the best teen-pregnancy prevention public service announcements ever made'" (qtd. Bill Albert)
16 and Pregnant can be used to decrease risky sexual behavior and promote healthier decisions among teens. Bill Albert, who is the chief program officer for The National Campaign, states in his article that 16 and Pregnant "makes them [teens] think more about their own risk of getting pregnant or causing a pregnancy and how to avoid it" ("Is Media Glamorizingâ€¦"). The National Campaign director of research, Katherine Suellentrop, writes in her article that "research has found that sexual content in media can influence teens' attitudes about sex and contraception and may also influence their sexual behavior" which leads to her point that "media might also have positive effects by, for example decreasing risky sexual behavior and promoting healthier decisions among teens" ("Evaluating the Impactâ€¦").
The major issue with this show is that it is criticized for glamorizing teen pregnancy but, Wetzstien states that "16 and Pregnant is gritty, not glamorous; sobering, not salacious" ("MTV's 16 and Pregnantâ€¦"). Rosst agrees with this statement by saying in his article that "the show [16 and Pregnant] shows the hardships these girls go through every day and every step of the way through their entire pregnancy" ("Pregnancy Pause"). Sonja Sharp, journalist for the "MotherJones" site, states that 16 and Pregnant "shows the true cost of teen pregnancy, the aftermath in an up close and personal way" ("16 and Pregnantâ€¦")
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