Media Influence on Teenage Pregnancy Essay

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Parenting can be challenging, especially for younger parents. Teen pregnancy is not a new issue, In were close to 200,000 babies born to those between the ages of 15 and 19. The issue of teen pregnancy seems to be glamorized more and more every day on TV shows such as 'Teen Mum', 'And Sixteen and Pregnant', and also by young celebrities on social media such as Jamie Lynn Spears. When it comes to the serious issue of teen pregnancy being portrayed in such a fantasized way, where do we draw the line? There are many causes of teen pregnancy, such as peer pressure; however, many teen pregnancies can be influenced by television shows and celebrities on social media. This is because they make the issue of parenting at such a young age seem simple by dismissing many of the challenges that come with it and replacing them with the idea of being able to make money from young pregnancy or even being able to be like your favorite celebrities. How absurd is that!?

It could be argued that TV shows discourage teen pregnancy, as they show many of the disadvantages and challenges of having children at such a young age, such as financial issues. Around the time that '16 and Pregnant' was first shown on screens, there was a sharp decline in teen birth rates which suggests that these shows did do their job. However, sometimes it's hard to believe that TV shows such as 'Sixteen and Pregnant' and 'Teen Mum' are made to discourage teen pregnancy as many critics of such shows have stated that, 'Even though many challenges of being a parent at a young age are shown, there are also some cases in which it is suggested throughout the show that getting pregnant was for the best.' After these types of shows became a hit, parents and educators became increasingly worried that they were beginning to show the teen mum's life as 'cool' instead of showing the challenging side. Studies show that more than 50% of teen mums never finish school. Another study reported that teen mothers face significant levels of stress that can then lead to increased mental health concerns. In addition to higher rates of postpartum depression, teenage mothers have higher rates of depression and these health issues can have a significant impact on those around us such as family members, friends, and educators. Personally, I believe that these shows don't cover these issues as much as they should; these issues are mostly brushed under the carpet during these shows which is not good enough!

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Most reality television shows and movies give an illusion to young, expecting mothers that they are ready to be responsible parents when really they are far from it. Getting pregnant young prevents you from experiencing many great things that you just can't do with a baby. I mean, would you really want to throw your life away and stop yourself from having fun in your teen years, just to sit at home and look after a baby? I know I definitely wouldn't! Teens should be running around and having fun, doing crazy things like a pack of wild animals. These shows ultimately create a false fantasy about teen pregnancy which takes away from the concepts of 'planned parenthood'. Popular movies about pregnancy such as 'Knocked Up', paint a picture that teen pregnancy will be fun and will end happily with a good support system from family and friends. However, there is much more to it in the real world: overwhelming responsibilities, stress, anxiety, and much more. These shows do attempt to educate teens on the struggles that come with parenting, however, fail to do so as they glamorize it and do not show the real responsibilities of being a teen parent. Due to the media giving teens the silly illusion that they are actually mature enough to become a parent, if they do decide to have a child, there are many long-term consequences that can effect the child; The child may become a young parent themselves; they could go into foster care and they may even get involved in crimes or drug use due to being neglected by their unfit mother. For example, studies have shown that children of teen mothers are 50% more likely to repeat a grade due to lower performance on standardized tests and that sons of teen mothers are 13% more likely to end up in prison.

MTV's teen pregnancy shows spread the message that you can make money from having a baby, and because of this many teens have actually tried it. Such as Farah Abhrams, who stars In 'Teen mom' and 'Sixteen and Pregnant' who is now always on the cover of tabloids for her shocking plastic surgeries and has a net worth of £1 million! This can result in teen girls thinking that getting pregnant will magically be broadcast on TV and they will become a famous celebrity swimming in money. It's absolutely ridiculous how such a serious topic is being made a joke out of thanks to these types of movies and TV shows.

Sure, It's great that MTV wanted to spread awareness of teen pregnancy; however, the way they are going about it isn't helping in the slightest. Some of the young watchers of these shows end up having the mindset of 'she may have a child but she has a family to help, she still goes out with her friends and has fun', and that mindset leads to carelessness when it comes to sexual intercourse and many other responsibilities. Even if MTV does show some of the struggles of teen parenting, teens are getting the wrong message and it is so unbelievably unfair to make them believe these things when in reality the situation is so much different. Teens are given the message that they can earn money and become a star for getting pregnant at such a young age. For example, one of the cast members Janelle Evans from 'Teen Mom 2' and '16 and Pregnant', her friends got pregnant shortly after her as they saw the fame she gained from it and wanted to be just like her. Because of this, they were labeled 'copycat moms'. This kind of message encourages teens to get pregnant for fame when really most teen mums can hardly work enough to earn the money to take care of their baby properly. For example, The U.S. Department of Agriculture has estimated that single parents living on low income need close to $10,000 just to take care of the baby in the first year. Working enough to earn this amount of money is tricky as many teen mums have to balance school, work, and looking after their child.

Jamie Lynn Spears was a Nickelodeon star and many teens will view the shows that she stars in, because of this you may think that she would be a good role model. Not so. You thought wrong. Spears became pregnant at 16 and took to social media stating 'Amazing; being a mom is the best feeling in the world', now, this may be true for the people who are ready to be a mother and also may be true for young celebrities who have the money to support themselves, however, this is hardly the case for other teen mothers. The image that celebrities spread is influencing young girls to make the wrong choices as they believe that their experience will be the same as people such as Jamie Lynn Spears, it's crazy if you ask me.

Overall, it has been shown that MTV did start with good intentions when first releasing these shows but, unfortunately, the message they have tried to spread has been taken over and watered down completely. The same goes for the young teen mum celebrities. Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that they are enjoying their lives with their children, however, the way they show their lives on social media as simple with kids instead of showing the challenges they face can make young girls think that their experience would be the same. It has been proven that once again the glamour and unrealistic fantasies of social media and TV have won over many young girls' hearts and shoved the true and hard reality of the topic to the side!

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