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Teen moms on TV: The perfect opportunity to talk with your kids?

How is your teenager interpreting media messages about teenage pregnancy?

Doctors, parents and teenagers have wildly different views on TV shows that follow—many say glorify—pregnant teenagers and teenage parents. And it has many parents wondering: Can parents use these shows as opportunities to talk with their children about the consequences of sex?

According to the recent government report “America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2011,” teen pregnancy rates have actually dropped for a second consecutive year (20.1 births per 1,000 girls ages 15 to 17 in 2009 from 21.7 per 1,000 in 2008). It may or may not have to do with the popular MTV series “Teen Mom,” which started airing around the same time, and David Bickham, PhD, and research scientist at Children’s Hospital Boston’s Center on Media and Child Health suggests that the show could serve as a platform for conversation between parents and teens. “The benefit of watching this kind of show with your child is that you can really shape the experience by being there and talking about what you’re all watching,” he says.

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