Date of Award

5-2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Applied Sociology

Advisor

Denton, Melinda L.

Committee Member

Winslow , Sarah E.

Committee Member

Mobley , F. Catherine

Abstract

Although teenage pregnancy and birth rates have been on the decline, the United States still has rates higher than any industrialized country. With several negative consequences associated with teenage childbearing for teen mothers and their children as well as for society, teen pregnancy is a social problem. Much of the existing literature focuses on the deleterious effects of pregnancy on teen mothers, but very few studies consider the effect that the transition to parenthood has on adolescent romantic relationships. The present study seeks to fill this gap by analyzing the content of popular television series, namely 16 and Pregnant and its follow-up series, Teen Mom, and Teen Mom 2, to determine how the media depicts the changing relationships of teenage mothers and fathers during the transition to parenthood. Further, the entertainment-education model is applied to consider whether the television shows are realistic examples for discouraging uninformed sexual decision-making. Despite the racial homogeneity of the featured teen mothers, resulting overall themes portrayed by the television shows imply that raising a child is likely to give rise to conflict and volatility in an adolescent romantic relationship. The depiction of instability may persuade viewers to delay early childbearing.

Included in

Sociology Commons

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