Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Heavy viewers of 'Teen Mom' and '16 and Pregnant' have unrealistic views of teen pregnancy

10.01.2014
Many believe teen mothers have an enviable quality of life, a high income and involved fathers

The creator of MTV's "16 and Pregnant" and "Teen Mom" said the shows have been called "one of the best public service campaigns to prevent teen pregnancy." A new Indiana University research study finds the opposite to be true.

The paper accepted for publication in the journal Mass Communication and Society presents findings that such teen mom shows actually lead heavy viewers to believe that teen mothers have an enviable quality of life, a high income and involved fathers.

Teens who perceived reality television as realistic were most likely to hold these perceptions.

The paper's authors are Nicole Martins, an assistant professor of telecommunications in the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington, and Robin Jensen, an assistant professor of communication at the University of Utah.

"Heavy viewers of teen mom reality programs were more likely to think that teen moms have a lot of time to themselves, can easily find child care so that they can go to work or school and can complete high school than were lighter viewers of such shows," Martins and Jensen wrote.

Frequent viewers of the programs also were more likely to believe that teen moms have affordable access to health care, finished college and lived on their own.

"Our data call into question the content of teen mom reality programming," they added. "Heavy viewing of teen mom reality programming positively predicted unrealistic perceptions of what it is like to be a teen mother."

Martins, the lead author, and Jensen were unable to ask the 185 high school students surveyed about sexual behavior. But they were able to ask about their perceptions of reality TV and teen pregnancy.

"The fact that teens in the study seemed to think that being a teen parent was easy might increase the likelihood that they'll engage in unsafe sexual practices," Martins said, "because that's not a real consequence to them."

MTV recently announced that "Teen Mom 3" will not be renewed for next season. However, the more successful franchise sequel, "Teen Mom 2," will return with a fifth season Jan. 20. Both programs spun off from an earlier series, "16 and Pregnant." They have been among the network's highest rated shows.

"As you study reality television with younger populations, you're going to find that younger children are going to have a harder time understanding that this is something that is scripted, edited and put together in a purposeful way to create a narrative and a drama," Martins said.

"Indeed, there are some individuals who believe that this reality TV show is like real life. For them, they were the most likely ones to hold unrealistic perception about teen parenthood."

The professors were somewhat surprised by the findings. Martins said the initial program, "16 and Pregnant," seemed to do a better job of focusing on the harsh realities faced by the teen moms. But the subsequent series, "Teen Mom," turned some of the young women into celebrities who end up on the cover of tabloid magazines.

"Maybe that's what's drawing viewers' attention: the fact that one of the teen moms, Farrah Abraham, repeatedly is on the cover of Us Weekly for all the plastic surgery that she's had. Well, a teen mom living in this country can't afford that; most unmarried teen mothers are on welfare," Martins said.

It is possible that teens desire the celebrity status afforded to the shows' teen mothers, which makes a larger impression on their perceptions of the teen mom experience than does the real-life narratives being broadcast.

"In other words, the attention and opportunities seemingly thrown at these teen parents may appear so appealing to viewers that no amount of horror stories from the reality shows themselves can override them," the professors wrote.

Industry estimates have suggested that the primary stars of "Teen Mom" received more than $60,000, as well as other commercial considerations. In contrast, nearly half of all teen mothers fail to earn a high school diploma and earn an average of $6,500 annually over their first 15 years of parenthood.

Students in the study attended schools that were chosen because demographically, the median annual household income and racial makeup of each school was consistent with the national average: $52,000 and 80 percent white. Participants ranged in age from 14 to 18. There were nearly even numbers of boys and girls.

Eighty percent of the young men said they never watched "16 and Pregnant" or "Teen Mom," but 58 percent of the young women reported they sometimes or always watched the shows.

Interestingly, the impact of exposure to these programs affected young men and women similarly. Even though more young women than men watched the shows, the effect between exposure and perceptions remained significant when gender was statistically controlled.

"This study makes a valuable contribution because it links exposure to specific content -- teen mom reality programming -- to teens' perceptions of teen motherhood," the professors concluded. "While it would be inappropriate to suggest that viewing these programs is the cause of teen pregnancy, one might consider it a contributing factor."

George Vlahakis | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.indiana.edu
http://news.indiana.edu/releases/iu/2014/01/16-and-pregnant-teen-mom-shows-encourage-teen-pregnancy.shtml

Further reports about: 16 and Pregnant Teen girls teen mothers

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT

nachricht Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>