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Research from Australia has looked at the outcomes of pregnancies amongst girls who take part in virtual infant parenting (VIP). In many countries across the world, the use of automated dolls is used to teach young teens about life with an infant. The aim is to discourage teenage pregnancy, however the research shows that VIP programmes may actually have the opposite effect. The Australian study was the first randomized control trial of the effectiveness of dolls to prevent teenage pregnancy. Over a three year period, 1,267 who took part and 1,567 girls who did not take part in VIP were part of the study. By the age of 20, 8% of those who had taken part and 4% of those who had not were mothers, while 9% of the VIP and 6% of the control group had had at least one abortion. The researchers did not analyse the reasoning behind this failure of the project, however the study author Sally Brinkman said that ‘Anecdotally, a lot of the students really enjoyed the program… There was a lot of positivity around the program, so it didn’t really work in putting the kids off.’

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