Finally–an answer to the question, “Why do Americans experience such a high rate of teen pregnancy?”
It’s TV’s fault!
At least, that’s the claim of a recent study linking teen pregnancy to shows like “Sex and the City,” “Friends” and “That 70’s Show.” (The data were collected a few years ago, hence the slightly dated TV shows).
According to the lead researcher of the study, “Watching this kind of sexual content on television is a powerful factor in increasing the likelihood of a teen pregnancy.”
Sounds like a nice link, but I have to say I’m skeptical. While the study did look at a few other factors, like if teens lived with a single parent or wanted to have a baby, it didn’t address a number of other crucial issues.
For example, one glaring omission was that the study failed to ask teens if they got any sex ed and, if so, what kind. If all the kids surveyed were getting abstinence-only education and taking virginity pledges, it would make a bit more sense that they weren’t able to balance what they saw on TV (like Ross and Rachel falling into bed without a condom, consequence free) with the reality of their own lives, where unprotected sex could have some pretty grim results.
Still, I find it hard to believe that kids–even with the most basic knowledge of sex–would assume that they won’t get pregnant just because Donna and Eric had unprotected sex and stayed fetus-free.
The study also failed to look at issues like access to birth control and health care. Could this explain why Canada–a country where the exact same TV shows are shown–has only half the teen pregnancy rate of the United States? I don’t know because this question wasn’t posed by the researchers!
It sure would be nice to be able to blame TV for teen pregnancy, but even if there is a link, TV is not the real culprit. Our terrible sex education and health care systems are.