Washington, Jan 10: A new study has found that people who regularly watch MTV's anti-teen pregnancy shows, '16 and Pregnant' and 'Teen Mom', have unrealistic views on the issue, believing that young mothers have an enviable quality of life, high income and involved fathers.
Teens who perceived reality television as realistic were most likely to hold these perceptions, the Indiana University research found.
Authors Nicole Martins from IU Bloomington, and University of Utah's Robin Jensen, wrote that heavy viewers of teen mom reality programs were more likely to think that teen moms have a lot of time to themselves, can easily find child care so that they can go to work or school and can complete high school than were lighter viewers of such shows.
Frequent viewers of the programs also were more likely to believe that teen moms have affordable access to health care, finished college and lived on their own.
The duo asserted that their data calls into question the content of teen mom reality programming, as heavy viewing of teen mom reality programming positively predicted unrealistic perceptions of what it is like to be a teen mother.
Martins, the lead author, and Jensen were unable to ask the 185 high school students surveyed about sexual behavior. But they were able to ask about their perceptions of reality TV and teen pregnancy.
Martins said that the fact that teens in the study seemed to think that being a teen parent was easy might increase the likelihood that they'll engage in unsafe sexual practices because that's not a real consequence to them.
Martins added that the as you study reality television with younger populations, you're going to find that younger children are going to have a harder time understanding that this is something that is scripted, edited and put together in a purposeful way to create a narrative and a drama.
The study is published in the journal Mass Communication and Society. (ANI)