Theses Doctoral

A Descriptive Analysis of the Most Viewed YouTube Videos Related to Teen Pregnancy

Massey, Rachel

The United States teen birth rate has been declining since 1991, but the teen pregnancy rate remains one of the highest in the developed world outside the former Soviet Bloc. There is no current national strategy to implement comprehensive sexuality education in schools, and states have varying sex education and abortion policies. There are various effective programs designed to prevent teen pregnancies that share common characteristics of effective programs. Given the widespread reach and number of users, YouTube has the potential to be an education resource for teen pregnancy prevention. At the time of this study, there were no studies describing the content of videos that relate to teen pregnancy. This study is intended to fill this gap in the literature.

YouTube was searched with the key words “teen pregnancy,” and the results were sorted by view count. The most widely viewed 100 videos meeting inclusion criteria were included in the study. The most widely viewed videos received 434,423,558 cumulative views. These videos were coded for their source, format, and the inclusion of content variables. The content variables were also organized to fit Kirby’s model of characteristics of effective programs. The majority of videos were sources and formats that depicted teens’ experience with pregnancy, including documentaries, reality TV programs, talk shows, and vlogs uploaded by consumers. Notably, there were no videos uploaded by professionals. The content most covered in the videos were the pregnancy outcome, how the teen mother found out she was pregnant, the teen mother’s reaction to the pregnancy, and the involvement of various family members.

YouTube is an opportunity to reach a larger number of viewers, but the teen pregnancy videos in the study are missing key elements of teen pregnancy that are present in the literature, like the relationship between poverty and teen pregnancy, teen abortion rates, and repeat pregnancies. The videos were also lacking in elements of Kirby’s characteristics of effective programs. Recommendations for health education practice include the need for professionals to utilize the true stories of teen pregnancies and popular influencers to create engaging, accurate content.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Health and Behavior Studies
Thesis Advisors
Basch, Charles E.
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
May 22, 2024