A Content Analysis of Teen Parenthood in “Teen Mom” Reality Programming

Nicole Martins, Mona Malacane, Nicky Lewis, Ashley Kraus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


A content analysis of the MTV shows 16 and Pregnant (n = 59), Teen Mom (n = 20), and Teen Mom 2 (n = 20) was conducted to determine whether these programs accurately portray teen pregnancy. The results revealed that teen mothers on 16 and Pregnant were younger, more often White, and had more healthy babies as compared to national averages. The babies’ fathers were more involved in the daily care of their child as compared to reality. Medical insurance or receipt of government assistance was almost never discussed. Teen mothers in the Teen Mom shows were significantly more likely to achieve a high school diploma as compared to reality. Finally, mothers on Teen Mom and Teen Mom 2 were significantly less likely to voice concern about finances and had more active social lives than mothers on 16 and Pregnant. Using social learning theory as a theoretical framework, we argue that these shows provide mixed messages to young audiences about teen pregnancy and parenthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1548-1556
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Communication
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication


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