13 Reasons Why YOU Need to Know What Your Kids Are Watching!
by Nancy Kislin, LCSW and MFT, Parent Educator
The release of the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why on March 31st created a phenomenon in homes and schools across the country. 13 Reasons Why has concerned parents and educators due to its explicit portrayal of suicide mixed with a vivid dose of sexual exploitation, drunk driving, rape and bullying. Kids have binge watched the show before parents knew about the dark subject matter the show covers and the potential impact on the viewers. If your kids have not yet watched the series and want to - watch it first and then watch it with them if you decide it is appropriate for your child.
Does the Netflix series glamorize, sensationalize, and romanticize the idea of suicide? Yes, and in fact, we are seeing the copycat effects happening all over the country.
Suicide is the #2 cause of teen death in the U.S.
What should parents do after their child has spent 13 hours being seduced by characters in a dark, violent, depressed, relatable world of teenagers’ lives? Talk! Talk! and Talk some more! And Listen!
Getting teens to talk about taboo subjects or anything that evokes emotions is challenging, but do not give up. Be persistent, humorous, sly and direct. Trust your gut. If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't right.
Do not be afraid to snoop. Check your child's internet history. What have they been watching on YouTube, Netflix? What have they been searching for and what are they posting?
Ask your child if they have watched 13 Reasons why and if they have talk to them about it. Ask them what they thought about the series and their reaction to the events depicted.
Things that stood out to me as I watched the series that may help you in raising topics with your kids are:
As I was finishing writing this article, I receive a call from a friend whose son was in the Emergency Room after telling someone he wanted to kill himself. That 11 year old boy had just watched several episodes of 13 Reasons Why. Parents, please inform yourself about what your children are watching and be empowered to set appropriate limits. Your childrens’ lives may just depend upon it.