Teen sex and pregnancy are all over TV and movies - but do they tell the real story? Or do they plant a dangerous seed that could change a life in an instant?
Think about the popular TV shows - Gossip Girl, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, 90210, Teen Mom. You may not be thinking about it while you watch them, but there is one thing they all have in common: lots - and lots - of sex, most of which is pretty unrealistic. 55% of teen girls say TV shows and movies encourage teenagers to have sex.
On Gossip Girl, everyone has steamy hookups without protection and without consequences like STDs or pregnancy. On The Secret Life of the American Teenager, the teen-mom character, Amy, had a baby last year but is already back in school and looking amazing - while balancing classes, a social life, and motherhood. 31% of teen girls say TV shows and movies make teenagers want to have a baby.
Of course, not all messages about teen pregnancy are so unrealistic. 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom do a great job at showing the gritty, real struggles of teen pregnancy. 48% of teen girls say they get their information on sex, pregnancy, and parenting from TV shows. But even still, there is something almost glamorous about having an entire nation think your life is compelling enough to tune in every week. In the end, all these shows are entertainment, and it can be easy to gloss over the facts.Constantly seeing messages like all of these can sneakily influence how a young woman feels about having sex and getting pregnant. When you see so much teen sex and pregnancy everywhere, it can start to seem normal. It's almost no wonder that 750,000 teen girls a year get pregnant.
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Source: A 2010 survey by the Candie's Foundation and Seventeen.