MTV premiered their new show, Skins, on Monday, the 17th. The show is adapted from the BBC version of the same name and follows 9 teenagers throughout their final 2 years of high school. The show pushes the envelope in many ways, showing the impulsive, reckless side of being a teen. These teens sneak out, disrespect many of the adults in their lives, party (with lots of drugs and alcohol), have sex, experiment with drugs…basically, they act the same way as a significant majority of American teens do. The behaviors, though, are secondary to the amazing friendships between the teens (which, unfortunately gets lost behind the sex, drugs and parties).
The Parent’s Television Council feels as though this is “the most dangerous show on television.” But why? Because it highlights so much of what is happening in the country? Because the initial idea is that it glorifies drug and alcohol use? Having watched the BBC version, and knowing that the American version plans to follow its model pretty directly, I know that the upcoming episodes do show the dark side of these behaviors, and the natural consequences that can occur if the behaviors go unchecked.
I was asked to speak about the show and share some ideas on The Early Show this morning. I have to clarify one thing that I said, which was not clear. I mention “not punishing your child if they tell you they are engaging in these behaviors.” In no way do I mean that these behaviors do not have consequences, and, that they should not be punished (especially the drinking and drugging) if that is what is discussed. What I did mean is that in that first open ended conversation, parents should allow their child one “get out of jail free” card. Open the discussion up by letting your child know that they can say ANYTHING during this conversation and it won’t be used against them nor will they be punished at that time for past indiscretions. This will, hopefully, promote honesty and openness and allow you to really learn what your child is doing. Make it clear that this is a one time option, though, and discuss what future consequences will be if these behaviors continue. This makes it a lot easier to continue to have open conversations, and allows your child to know exactly what to expect from you in the future.
I firmly believe that we can choose to put our heads in the sand about what our teens are doing, OR we can use Skins as a guide to have wonderful dialogues with our children. At the end of the day, research shows that parents have more influence than anything else. Use this show as a launching point to exert that influence, to understand your teenager, and to really be involved and make a difference.
Below is the article from the clip, followed by some other articles published about the show.