As I watched my kids transition from tween to teen, I’ve witnessed their sense of maturity and independence grow with each passing day. The activities we use to do together have gone to the wayside in favour of privacy and hanging with friends. Despite asking open-ended questions, it’s still tough to get more than a few words from them. Once upon a time I was their world, and now often times I feel like I hardly know what’s going on in their lives. Finding that common ground certainly gets more challenging in the teen years.
A new Netflix study reveals that if you want to get closer to your teen, you should watch their shows. 82% of Canadian parents have watched a show their teen watches just to feel closer to them. What’s even more surprising is that 74% of teens say that they would be interested in talking to their parents about the shows they watch. Netflix brought together parents with their teens to talk about their relationship. See what they have to say in the video at the end of this post.
My 16-year-old daughter and I watched 13 Reasons Why together the week the show premiered on Netflix. Let me preface that by saying we never read the Jay Asher book, so we didn’t really know what the story was about. We knew Serena Gomez was attached to the project, and that was good enough for us. We thought 13 Reasons Why was a mystery drama surrounding the death of a high school student. I had no idea that the show ran so much deeper than that.
Though the series may appear to be marketed towards teens, 13 Reasons Why is also for parents. With today’s teens facing more challenges than ever, parents watching the series will gain a better understanding as to what today’s teens are confronted with. Thanks to social media, kid’s lives today are scrutinized and magnified more than ever. 13 Reasons Why did a good job in creating awareness to the pressures and issues high school students are dealing with today – bullying, cyberbullying, underage drinking, drugs, substance abuse, sexual assault, rape, driving under the influence, and suicide.
The show deliberately made the controversial decision to not sugar coat the main issues. Three episodes in particular contain graphic content (those episodes begin with explicit warnings). This completely blindsided me (there wasn’t much written about the show when it first premiered). I was uncomfortable watching those scenes with my daughter, but no one should feel comfortable watching scenes depicting rape and suicide. This presented me with an opportunity to talk about what just happened in the episode. I probably would not have broached the subject or have her be open to talk about it if we didn’t watch the show together.
Parents, don’t think that your teen is oblivious to this series. The kids, media, and mental health experts are all weighing in about 13 Reasons Why. Instagram has numerous accounts based on the show. Herein lies a great opportunity for parents to step in (without appearing to be overstepping) to express an interest in watching the series together (if you’re unsure about the content, watch it alone first). You may be surprised with the dialogue that follows with your teen.
Watching your teen’s shows can bridge the conversation gap, and help jump start those sensitive topics. If you decide to watch 13 Reasons Why with your teen, know that there are resources to help you navigate the conversation. Immediately following the final episode, stay tuned for the after-show 13 Reasons Why: Beyond the Reasons, where the cast, producers and mental health professionals talk about the very real issues depicted in the fictional series.
13 Reasons Why has brought awareness to my daughter on the mental health issues that her peers may be struggling with. In her words, if only we can all be kinder and recognize that our own actions or words (no matter how small) can drastically impact another person.
If you know of someone who is need of help, please direct them to the Kids Help Phone (in Canada) at 1-800-668-6868 www.kidshelphone.ca or to Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why global website for listings of local mental health organizations.
Disclosure: As a member of Netflix Canada’s Stream Team, I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with Netflix. As always, all opinions are my own.
About Wendy Morelli
Wendy loves her 2 kids and her iPhone, not necessarily always in that order. She is an app obsessed mom who loves everything tech and is (unfortunately) old enough to remember the brick Motorola cell phone and the Commodore computer. Her love for technology stems back to the 10+ years of working for technology based companies. Wendy's alter ego, "AppHipMom" has been featured in Canadian Family, iVillage, Women in Biz, EverythingMom, BlogHer and Savvy Mom.