Can storytelling impact teen pregnancy statistics?
Storytelling is a form of content marketing. Marketers use it to weave a story to sell a product, a service, or a concept.
And storytelling can be in many forms: words, infographics, podcasts, music, videos…even TV shows. All can be powerful mediums.
And just to show how powerful storytelling can be, studies were released earlier this year about three popular MTV reality television shows that delve into the lives of pregnant teenage women: “16 and Pregnant,” “Teen Mom,” and “Teen Mom 2.”
When these shows first aired, there was an uproar over fears that they would glorify teen pregnancy and motherhood. However, a major study released earlier this year, “Media Influences on Social Outcomes: The Impact of MTV’s 16 and Pregnant on Teen Childbearing,” finds just the opposite to be true.
Published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the study found that the three shows actually coincide with a 5.7 percent decrease in teen pregnancies. This accounts for about a one-third decline in teen pregnancies in the year and a half from the start of the shows.
Other studies indicate there has also been a significant increase in the sales of condoms among teenage boys and young men. Although this cannot be tied specifically to the three shows, they likely did have an impact.
According to the researchers, the three shows give teens a close look at what it means to have children at such a young age. In fact, while the shows were on TV, there were spikes on Twitter related to pregnancy and on search engines searching for information on birth control, pregnancy, and abortion, especially in areas of the country where teen pregnancy is prevalent.
As to abortions specifically, it appears that not only was there a reduction in teen births at the time of the shows, but the number of abortions among teenage women also declined…all possibly related to some quality, credible, engaging storytelling content.