MTV’s 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom have been hailed as anti-teen pregnancy public service campaigns, but an Indiana University study suggests heavy viewing leads teenagers to believe that teen moms have an “enviable quality of life.” While there’s nothing unenviable about being a teen mom per se, teenagers who thought the documentary-style shows were realistic were more likely to have a number of related misconceptions. They believed unwed teen mothers have high incomes, are able to finish school and go to work, have access to affordable health-care and child-care, and “have a lot of time to themselves” — which does sound pretty enviable. Researchers blamed the confusion on the atypical, micro-celebrity status achieved by Teen Mom stars, who frequently appear on magazine covers and talk shows. By contrast, I find tabloid stories about Jenelle Evans's heroin addiction and repeat arrests relentlessly grim. Share them with the impressionable MTV viewer in your life!
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