MTV’s new program “Skins” airs in the St. Louis area at 9 pm on Monday nights, and even though it just premiered, it’s already engendered plenty of controversy. Advertisers have abandoned it, and the Parent’s Television Counsel has officially complained about the program to Attorney General Eric Holder and the FCC, as well as the heads of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.
What’s wrong with it? Well, for starters, it’s a graphic portrayal of what some believe teen life is today. There is plenty of sex, plenty of drugs, and plenty of alcohol. There is dysfunction galore. Teens lie to their parents as a matter of course, stay out all night, and steal (and wreck) cars.
“Skins is a show that addresses real world issues confronting teens in a frank way,” said MTV’s spokesperson Jeannie Kedas in a statement released Tuesday.
So just a normal day in the life of a teen, right? Probably not, but in the world of TV, reality tends to be somewhat pliable. Still, these are not uncommon themes in today’s teen programs (“Gossip Girl,” for example, and “Pretty Little Liars”). What has advertisers and others in the media so outraged is the fact that actual teens (ages 15 to 18) are portraying the teens in the program.
In truth, what has advertisers and the media so upset is not the subject matter but rather the actors acting out the subject matter. While the media sweats the age of the actors, however, parents are most likely going to be more concerned about the subject matter.
While it can be difficult to transition from practicing attachment parenting with little ones to applying the principles of attachment parenting with older children and teens, it not only can be done, it can improve your relationship and help your child make better decisions.
If your teen or older child wants to watch “Skins,” what should you do?
- If you don’t already have a set limit for television viewing in your household, this may be a good time to implement one. Excessive screen time has been linked to a number of social and cognitive problems in both younger and older children. For this reason, your teens should be limited to a certain number of TV viewing hours a day or week. You can jointly determine what is appropriate, and your teen can decide along with you how best these can be spent. Giving your teen some input gives them a feeling of control and motivates them to follow the rules they had a hand in creating.
- Join your teen in watching and share your concerns about the subject matter. The subject matter is decidedly adult, but, while most parents would prefer to think their child’s school is free of sex, drugs, and alcohol, the statistics are not on our side, unless you homeschool. “Skins” can give parents and teens an opportunity to discuss family standards and morals regarding these issues. TV tends to show only the fun parts of these behaviors, rarely the real-world consequences. Parents can offer a perspective that TV can’t or won’t.
- Just say, “No.” If there is simply no way you can tolerate your teen watching this show, you have every right as a parent to say no. “I love you, and for that reason, I cannot allow you to watch a show I know will be harmful to you.” There is no reason to argue, nag, or be hurtful, but it is important to stand your ground if this is something about which you feel strongly.
To learn more about using positive discipline techniques with teenagers, you can find Positive Discipline for Teenagers by Dr. Jane Nelson at Borders Bookstores throughout the St. Louis area. Reserve your copy today!
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