The Upside to Teen TV.
by Leslie Morgan Steiner
Lots of hype lately about MTV’s new Monday night television series, Skins. The show about teens, based on a popular British program, has drawn allegations of child porn. Big advertisers have fled, like Taco Bell, H&R Block, GM and Wrigley, and the nonpartisan advocacy group Parents Television Council has blasted the show and urged an advertiser and parental boycott:
“Skins not only features dozens of instances of high-school children using foul language; it also contains depictions and descriptions of high-school children discussing and engaging in sex; high-school children discussing and engaging in the use of illegal drugs; high-school children discussing and engaging in the use of alcohol; high-school children stealing an automobile and then crashing it into a lake; and countless other descriptions and depictions of graphic, adult-themed activity.”
I kind of wish my kids would watch Skins. It’s gotta be more bearable than Jersey Shore, any day.
But it’s not just Skins that the parent police are trashing.
Here’s what PTC says about other shows popular with teenagers:
Fox’s Glee: “Parents should be aware that this is an edgy teen show filled with adult themes.”
ABC’s Ugly Betty: “Sexual references and innuendo are frequent…often revealing outfits worn and photo shoots that lead to sexually suggestive comments. Foul language is frequent and harsh, with words like ‘bitch,’ ‘ass,’ ‘screw,’ and ‘ damn.’”
Fox The Simpsons: “For the most part The Simpsons has been a clean show with mild sexual innuendo and violence. However, over the years, the content has become increasingly more unwholesome.”
Both Parents Television Council and another advocacy group, Common Sense Media, serve a useful role in rating tv shows, movies and video games for parents. But I wish these groups, the media, and school counselors talked more about the positive role some of these shows play in teens’ and parents’ communication about complex issues, instead of constant caution about the risks of tv, movies and the Internet that give some parents the impression that all tv except nature shows has got to be downright dangerous.