Supposedly the rate of teen pregnancies is at reasonably low rate–at least in terms of where the rate was in the mid-late 1990’s. And though this doesn’t take away from the fact that the teen pregnancy rate could be lower, it does make a case for the fact that in many ways teens are making better decisions about sex OR that teens have more alternatives and solutions to prevent pregnancies from occurring than what they had in the 90’s. I know when my mom was growing up–birth control, Plan B, and some of these newer methods weren’t available or weren’t accessible in the way that they are now.
A lot of the changes that we see in attitudes toward responsible sex, sex education, and teen pregnancies are the direct result of changes in our society and the way our society values sex, pregnancy–amongst other social issues. Yet one thing that is a little surprising–when we consider the decrease in the teen pregnancy and the changes about sex and teenagers in our society is the sudden increase in television about teen pregnancy and/or teen sex.
The “increase” could be a result of what I mentioned earlier: the change in attitudes about these matters amongst Americans. But as stated in an article that I posted a week ago about the media’s impact on our children–it seems that the media may be influencing opinions about these matters in ways that are directly harmful for our children. Shows that make teen pregnancy seem, “cool”, or as if it is “in”, makes teens think that being a pregnant teenager is “fine” or even “manageable”. And while we don’t want to ostracize teenagers that are pregnant or make it seem as if it isn’t doable(because it is), we also don’t want to spread the message that having a child at 16 is something desirable or even “trendy”.
Though certain television shows state that they are creating content to PREVENT pregnancy, the overall message in the shows, the feedback amongst the viewers and the types of viewers watching the shows actually indicate the opposite. Shows like Teen Mom, 16 & Pregnant, the Secret Life of American Teenager, etc–are all shows that seem to be extremely popular amongst the teenage crowd. All of these shows center around “teen sex” and “teen pregnancy”. And they all seem to send a message to teens that teen pregnancy is “cool”. Whether or not the shows intend for that to be the message is a different story–but the viewers, and the responses seem to point in that direction.
So my question is: is this trend regarding television and teen pregnancy, something parents should be concerned about or something that is simply a direct reflection of society’s “open” attitude about these matters–now more than ever? Do your teens watch these shows? Do you watch them? What message are these shows sending to viewers, in your opinions?