Teens and technology

How technology has led to the decline of teen pregnancies


Illustration by Holland Rainwater

Story by Maddie Anderson, opinion editor

They smile at each other as they walk down the hallways of the school. Her hand resting on her growing belly, his hand wrapped around her waist. Junior Nicole Kennedy and her boyfriend of nearly four years are expecting their first child, all in part due to technology.  

“Technology played a huge part in us meeting,” Kennedy said. “I saw him at the fair with some friends a few years ago, and a few days after I had followed him on Instagram. After that we began talking and has lead to where we are now.”

There was a time, about three decades ago, where teenage pregnancy was at its peak. In the early 90s, there was an estimated 1 million pregnancies, over half of which were attributed to women aged 15 to 19. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, the US has seen this number, 60 teen births per 1000, cut by one-third — an average of only 20. This astronomical drop can be attributed to the rise of technology.

Melanie Guldi from the University of Central Florida and Chris Herbst from Arizona State University concluded that “at least 13 percent of the total decline in the teen birth rate between 1999 and 2007 can be explained by the increases in high-speed internet access.”

In The Importance of Social Media as Source of Information in the Technology Identification in Dependence of External and Internal Factors, an analysis on technology and social media, Christian W. Scheiner identifies technology as a source of information. Social media remains the most promising source of technological information for teens, as it is the most accessible and used technological platform.

“Broadband internet has the potential to shape in powerful ways the nature and intensity of individuals’ social connections as well as the quantity and quality of the information received on relationships and sexual health,” Guldi and Herbst said.

Through snapchat and texts, they discuss names, cribs, and all the essentials for their upcoming baby.”

— Maddie Anderson

Many speculate that one of the reasons for the decline of teen pregnancy has to do with the lack of physical interpersonal communication, meaning that teens are simply spending less time in each others physical company.

“Social media is amazing, however, social media is also a nightmare. People are all over social media.” Kennedy said. “I guarantee you can find almost anyone, and almost anyone can find you. Once you have social media, your life is out there.”

Kennedy and her boyfriend have turned to social media as their primary form of communication. 

“I do believe that increase in technology has allowed me more freedom in my personal and sexual life,” Kennedy said.

Guildi and Herbst also concluded that Americans are increasingly turning to the internet for a wide range of advice, for things such as romantic relationships, sex and contraceptive methods. “Teens, who now spend more time engaging on various forms of media – much of it online – than any other activity (aside from sleep), are particularly well-positioned to take advantage of the new information and relationship landscape created by the explosion in the broadband internet.”