Monkey See, Monkey Do


If you ask Dr. Drew, MTV’s hit shows “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom” work better than condoms when it comes to deterring high school students from becoming parents long before they are ready.

Of course, the good doc is employed by MTV as host of the aforementioned shows’ reunion episodes, so he could be towing the company line.

Still, there is no denying the popularity of “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom.” The series has made rock stars out of its teen mothers and it’s no surprise that some claim “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom” actually encourage girls to get pregnant in an effort to land a spot on the shows.

So, which one is it? Do the shows really act like a birth control of sorts by illustrating the harsh reality of being a teenage parent? Or, are teen viewers so desperate to become the next Farrah, Maci or Amber that they actually engage in unprotected intercourse in order to potentially become 16, 15, 14 and pregnant?

Well, guess what? Someone finally decided to find out.

Paul Wright, a professor at Indiana University, recently published the results of a study he conducted trying to determine if MTV’s procreation shows glamourize teen pregnancy or help to prevent it.

Unfortunately, the research doesn’t yield a definitive answer.

According to Wright, “On one hand, the programs do show many of the difficulties teen mothers face. But on the other hand, they sometimes seem to send the message that getting pregnant was all for the best. The hypothesis driving our study was that the family background of the viewer might determine whether they focused on the negatives or the positives.”

Wright studied 313 female undergrads as part of his research and found that girls whose fathers communicated openly with them about sex were more likely to “attend to the negatives of being a young mother depicted on 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom.”

As for a mother’s influence on her teen daughters in regards to pregnancy, Wright’s study found that the more mothers communicate about intercourse, “the less likely it is their daughters will either have sex or engage in risky sex.”

Bottom line, according to Wright, communication is key when trying to prevent your children from getting up knocked up while they are still in high school. In fact, if your conversations are done in a positive way, you will likely have more impact on your teens than MTV shows. In addition, the chances that your child will appropriately perceive teen pregnancy and motherhood as negatives will be much greater.

How old were your kids when you first discussed sex with them?

Related Articles:

Would You Pay Your Teen NOT to Get Pregnant?

The Not-So Sexy Side of Teen Sex

Does Jamie Lynn Spears’ Birth Story Glamourize Teen Pregnancy?

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.