Five positive lessons MTV is teaching teens

Kids these days...are actually making better decisions! Credit: Getty Images
Kids these days…are actually making better decisions!
Credit: Getty Images

Yesterday, the National Bureau of Economic Research came out with a study saying that MTV’s show “16 & Pregnant” is contributing directly to a drop in the teen pregnancy rate. And it actually sounds legit. Researchers found that areas in the U.S. where the show had the most viewers had the lowest teen pregnancy rates. Since the show premiered in 2009, teen pregnancy rates have dropped 9 percent and are the lowest they’ve been in more than 10 years.

This made us wonder what else MTV is subliminally teaching teens.

1. Stop pretending to be someone else online. Thank you, Nev and Max, for exposing how not cool it is to mess with someone’s emotions online. It’s safe to say that most “Catfish” viewers won’t be tempted to start any fake Facebook profiles anytime soon. Not only do they know their photos can be dragged into Google to turn up other pictures of themselves, or with other tricks of the “Catfish” trade, but they see just how much it can hurt someone. “Catfish”: spreading empathy one episode at a time.

2. With your real friends, nothing is off limits. The casts of “Girl Code” and “Guy Code” spend episodes talking about things you might not feel most comfortable bringing up with your own clique. But between the talks about bikini waxes and asking someone out, the real lesson that emerges is that you shouldn’t be afraid to share whatever’s on your mind with friends. If it’s a true friendship, they have your back.

3. Your weird family is totally normal. MTV has a knack for normalizing things some people don’t know much about. “Generation Cryo” shows what it’s like to be a teen with lesbian parents, who was conceived with the help of a sperm donor. Several episodes of “True Life” have been devoted to kooky parents, like ones who dress up as clowns or party more than the average college student. But in the end, all these families are just different versions of the same thing: people sitting around the dinner table who want what’s best for each other.

4. It’s always possible to reinvent yourself. You have to love the kids on “Made.” Despite being the dorkiest person at school or terrible at sports, they think they can score a hot Homecoming date or make the varsity team — and they often do! The real life lesson here: By surrounding yourself with life coaches and refusing to give up, you can turn your dreams into reality.

5. “Don’t try this at home” is always good advice. No one wants to end up in a “Ridiculousness” video. If Rob Dyrdek has taught viewers anything, it’s that skateboards and slim ledges don’t go together, and that trampolines and pogo sticks in general are not a good idea. Here’s to a safer America!

Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence


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