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Robo-Babies May Actually Promote Teenage Pregnancy Rather Than Discourage It

First Posted: Aug 29, 2016 09:09 AM EDT
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Known to many, robot babies or robo-babies are used to prevent teenage pregnancy. They are designed to cry like babies and require someone to feed them. They likewise need to be burped and rocked. The objective is to mirror the real situation of having a baby and make teenagers feel the difficulty of having a little one to take care of. However, a recent study revealed that these lifelike robotic simulators may actually do the opposite of the goal. Yes, they may even promote teenage pregnancy.

The Slate shared the story of Mark Joseph Stern who narrated his experience in completing a robo-baby exercise in school. He was convinced that doing it could certainly prevent teenage pregnancy given the demands and responsibilities of having a baby, but only to find out he was wrong. He cited a study published in the medical journal The Lancet, which suggested that robo-babies can actually increase teen pregnancy rates.

The Blaze likewise shared the findings of the same study. Researchers chose more than 2,800 Australian girls aged 13 to 15 and divided them into two groups: the robo-baby group and the non-robo-baby group. They found that the former were apparently more likely to give birth prior to the age of 20.

What could have possibly gone wrong? According to Dr. Sally Brinkman, the study's lead author, numerous teens became attached to the fake babies. She concluded that the program failed because a lot of girls enjoyed taking care of the robo-babies; therefore, they found motherhood easy. Moreover, they felt like they were ready to be mothers because they believed that the exercises reflect real-life motherhood experience.

As the abovementioned findings show, it might be safe to say that looking after robo-babies can indeed make teenagers think that they are preparing for actual parenthood; hence teenage pregnancy is promoted. It can also be safe to say that the difficulties and demands of being parents would not necessarily scare teenagers.

Meanwhile, adolescent sexuality expert Melissa Kang said there are other reasons why a person would opt for contraception. One great factor is the access to resources, something not covered by taking care of robo-babies. This fact makes other experts believe that taking care of fake babies cannot really mirror real-life parenthood experiences.

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