Social Media solves Teenage Pregnancy spell
The UK’s teenage pregnancy rate has more than halved in the last 20 years.
According to figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the amount of under-18’s conceiving has hit an all-time low. When records first began in 1969, there were 45,495 reported teenage pregnancies, a number which decreased by 59% to 18,076 in 2016.
The Teenage Pregnancy strategy was implemented across the UK in 1999 with the aim of reducing Teenage Pregnancy rates by half and increasing the number of young mothers who are in Education, Employment or Training within 10 years. Although the strategy did have some form of impact on reducing the number of teenage conceptions, it did not have the full effect that the government intended it to have.
Many instead attribute the decline in conceptions rates to teenagers having a greater awareness and understanding of sexual health and education. Other suggested reasons for a shift in teenage pregnancies are a change in attitudes towards young mothers, and more ambitious teenagers wanting to get into a career before becoming a parent. Some people, however, also believe that Technology and social media may also play a pivotal part in the decline.
The 21stcentury has been some of the most technically advanced years in modern history and along with the birth of smartphones, smartwatches and smart speakers – came social media. With UK Teenagers spending on average 9 hours a day on their phones, few are arguing that teens are too preoccupied with their devices to be engaging in such activities as they would prior to the technological revolution. Adolescent Psychotherapist and Journalist Erin Cotter agrees saying “Before the technical era came around, young people were forced to go outside and mingle with each other. Nowadays, they stay indoors and “socialise” through the internet. Although the web does present many advantages and allows young people to connect with others from across the world, it also prohibits many young people from having any physical connections with each other. This, in turn, ultimately affects their ability to form relationships as an Adult”. She added “Social media is still a relatively new concept, so many of us (in particular Generation Z) are going out and grabbing it with both hands – We don’t know the full extent of its damage just yet. If it’s limiting the number of children being born into the world, what else is it limiting?”.
The biggest yearly drop took place between 2009 and 2010 with a decrease of over 3,626 births. During these years, Instagram, WhatsApp and Pinterest all hit the markets – some of the biggest Social Networks to date. In 2019, with teenagers now having access to more technology and social networking sites than ever, Teenage Conceptions are at their lowest rates. Data suggests that more and more people are waiting until later on in their lives to have children with conception rates for women aged 30+ have increased by over 34%.