When it comes to reality shows about family life, there is certainly no shortage of viewing options. On TLC alone, there’s Kate Plus 8, Toddlers and Tiaras, 19 Kids and Counting—take your pick. These shows offer an intimate glimpse into the lives of complete strangers and yet, people can’t seem to get enough of all the family drama.
And then there’s the MTV take on the family reality show: 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom. In its first season, Teen Mom followed moms Catelynn, Amber, Farrah and Maci as they struggled to navigate life as new young parents. Now returning for the third season, these four moms are still struggling as they try to balance the demands of parenting with the challenges of school, family and relationships. Appealing to a younger demographic than their TLC counterparts, these shows attempt to paint a picture of the real-life consequences of teen pregnancy. But do they succeed?
We are absolutely in favour of educating teens about sexual health—segments of the show are followed by PSAs about abstinence, reminding viewers that “teen pregnancy is 100 percent preventable”—but we have to wonder if this is the best way. If the goal of Teen Mom is to deter teens from engaging in sexual activity that could result in an unplanned pregnancy during high school by showing the challenges that these moms face, are they succeeding? Or is the message being lost as the show’s “stars” land on the front covers of magazines amid stories about Brangelina and the Kardashians?
With the third season of Teen Mom beginning this evening on MTV, we’re curious—will you be watching? Will your kids?
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