'Teen Mom' Is Actually Good for Teens, Study Says

Even as a full-fledged adult of 33, with a hands-on husband, I was surprised at how hard being a new mom sometimes seemed when my son was born. I can’t imagine doing it as a teenager… But I, and millions of others, will get another chance to experience it vicariously thanks to Teen Mom 2. The show, which debuts on MTV tonight and is a follow-up to the Teen Mom series, follows a new quartet of young moms -- Chelsea, Jenelle, Kailyn and Leah, who were first introduced to viewers on 16 and Pregnant -- as they navigate postpartum life. And here's the thing -- turns out watching the show is actually a great pregnancy deterrent for teenagers.

 “The way pregnancy and parenthood are portrayed isn't glorified or glamorous," says Amy R. Kramer, director of entertainment media for The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, which has surveyed 16 and Pregnant viewers and studied the show’s effect as a teaching tool. "it’s upfront and honest. I don’t think you can sit through any episode and say, ‘Wow, that looks awesome.’”

Here's what the The National Campaign’s research found:

It helps kids understand it's hard. A public opinion poll found that 82 percent of teens who have watched 16 and Pregnant said the show “helps teens better understand the challenges of pregnancy and parenthood and how to avoid it.” Only 17 percent said it “glamorizes teen pregnancy.”  

It opens the lines of communication. An academic study of how 16 and Pregnant works as a teaching tool in after-school programs found that a majority of teens who watched the episodes in a group setting and discussed them with a group leader went on to talk about it again afterward -- and 40 percent talked about it with a parent.

It's relatable. The fact is, about 750,000 teen girls get pregnant in the U.S. every year. As Kramer says, shows like 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom do a good job of showing that teen pregnancy can happen to anyone. “These shows bring teenagers into this world that’s difficult, and whatever can bring them to the point where they want to avoid it is good stuff.

Do you think shows about teenage pregnancy are helpful or harmful? Chime in below!

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