Since the birth of social media as a global phenomenon, teenage pregnancy rates have almost halved. The fall in figures began in around 2007, the year after popular social media platform, Facebook, expanded beyond university campuses. It has been speculated that young people are simply spending less time physically in each other’s company, and spending more time tweeting.
In 2014, 22,653 girls under 18 got pregnant in England and Wales, exhibiting a drop of almost seven per cent in a single year. For under-16s the number dropped by 10 per cent in a single year.
In addition, Clare Murphy, director of external affairs at the abortion provider British Pregnancy Advisory Service (Bpas) said that access to contraception and sex education had “undoubtedly” played a part in the declining teenage pregnancy rate. She continues, “The plummeting level of teenage drinking, for example, may be reducing the likelihood of unprotected sex, and teenagers are also increasingly socialising online, limiting the opportunities for sexual activity.”
Conversely, it has also been warned that the social media explosion is exposing young people to new dangers. These include sexual exploitation by strangers, online bullying and “sexting”. As well as this, new dating apps such a Tinder are available for anyone to download at no cost. Young girls can simply create an account and start talking to strangers within minutes.
So although teenage pregnancy numbers have seen a decline, there is still much to worry about in terms of how young girls are exposed through popular social media platforms.