Medill Reports Chicago: “True-life teen moms, experts say MTV’s ‘reality’ off the mark”

Emilie Zaslow, PhD, assistant professor of communication studies and author of “Feminism, Inc.: Coming of Age in Girl Power Media Culture” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), discusses how the media, especially the Internet and television, affects teens.

Whether teens are talking about it at home, pregnancy seems to be inescapable in the media. In recent years, young motherhood has become a pop culture trend, and this has not been lost on teens, said Emilie Zaslow, PhD., assistant professor of communication studies at Pace University in New York City, in an interview with Medill ReportsMedill Reports is written and produced by graduate journalism students at Northwestern University’s Medill school.

“Generally, the research shows that there is not a direct link between media and behavior,” she said, “but there is strong evidence that media does have an influence on attitudes and values, and how we see the world.

Some organizations are seizing this opportunity to change the ways in which teenagers learn about safe sex.  TV shows and movies provide parents with the opportunity to have an open dialogue with their kids about sex. 

But Zaslow suggested this type of discussion should begin in classrooms because media education is limited in our country, compared with the United Kingdom and Canada.

“The United States has some of the worst media education,” she said. “And it is because we are the biggest producers of media – [producers] have a large strong hold.”

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