Rejoice! Social Media Might Actually Prevent Teen Pregnancy

by Mike Julianelle
Image via Shutterstock

It’s possible that social media’s to blame for a decline in teen pregnancy rates

According to Arnold Schwarzenegger, Skynet was supposed to takeover on August 29th, 1999. Clearly, we’ve escaped “The Terminator” franchise’s terrifying prophecy, but just because computers have yet to provoke a nuclear holocaust doesn’t mean machines don’t rule our lives.

Fortunately, today there’s some “science” out there suggesting that might not be such a bad thing!

Right now, teenagers everywhere are ignoring their parents on Snapchat and Kik and Instagram and Facebook and fifty other social media platforms you’ve never heard of, typing themselves into oblivion, and driving the rest of the world crazy. But given the alternative, might that be a good thing? It may be annoying and even a little disappointing and definitely somewhat baffling that kids today seem to prefer interacting in a virtual environment to actually playing outside or talking to each other in person or even on the phone, but after learning about a new “scientific” study, you might feel better about that.

According to “some experts,” teenage pregnancy rates are down, partially – perhaps, potentially, maybe kind of a little but let’s not hold anyone to that just yet! – because teens are spending more time on social media. Sure. they’re probably exchanging nude selfies but you can’t get virtually pregnant so HAVE AT IT, KIDS! What would you rather teenagers spend their nights typing bizarre abbreviations you don’t understand into their iPhones, or having unprotected, unfulfilling (I’m just speaking from experience) sex with each other? I know what I’d prefer.

An article on Vice cites figures released by The Office for National Statistics on Thursday that show that teen (i.e. 18 and under) pregnancy rates in England and Wales in 2014 were down 6.8 percent from the year before, and they are now at their lowest since 1969. The Marshall Town reports that a similar decline in teen pregnancy has been seen in New Zealand, starting in 2007, the year “social media became a phenomenon.” Obviously, it’s not all because we’re now living in the Matrix, it’s also due to increased sex education and easier access to contraception, but if there’s any stronger birth control than spending the afternoon sending the shit emoji back and forth, I don’t know what that could be.

I happen to have two boys, which makes these comments from leading pediatrics expert, University of Auckland Associate Professor Simon Denny, all the more reassuring. “There are some suggestions that young people are spending more time inside rather than going outside and engaging in risk behaviors […] not just [risky sexual behavior]that is reducing, it is all of the … risk behaviors that you have to engage in outside of the home.”

Who needs helicopter parenting when we have Snapchat?

There are a lot of concerns around overuse of social media – my wife informs me of them every day, or at least I think that’s what she’s saying, it’s not always easy to hear when I’m typing my latest tweet – from desocialization to cyber bullying to the destruction of modern conversation to all the stupid acronyms you’re forced to use, and those are all valid concerns. But compared to the possibility that a teenager somewhere might throw away their youth with an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy?

If that’s the trade-off, I’ll give my five-year-old an iWatch right now.