Is " Jersey Shore" harmful to teens?
As a parent of six children, I have been in the parenting profession for over 26 years. In that time I have seen many changes not only in parenting methods but in kids as well. Few people can argue that the present generation has a wildly different opinion of what is considered acceptable and unacceptable behavior then their parents. What may surprise you is the fact that this is also true between siblings now. The commonly held beliefs between older teens and their siblings born only 5 to 10 years ahead of them show this same discrepancy. At some point in the past 10 years there has been a shift between commonly held beliefs concerning not only how a person should act but what they are entitled to.
An explanation for this must come from factors new to the societal equation.One factor that can not be discounted is the introduction of modern media and reality shows targeted at teens. Teens of this era are more influenced by the media around them then in any other time in our history. The use and reliance of modern technology is changing our society as a whole. The lives of teens though revolve around the cell phones,and lap tops available today. Texting and social networks have replaced more common forms of communication and television programming is now targeted directly at teens.Because of this teen trends and fads move faster and are more widespread than ever before. Attitudes have also changed.The advent of reality shows, like "Jersey Shore" and "The Hills" targeted at teens and young adults increases this dynamic by glorifying examples of adolescents with extremely dysfunctional behavior and attitudes. These disturbed individuals are set up as role models who get more attention and notoriety in direct correlation to how outrageous their behavior is. I do not believe that the increase can be completely blamed on tv however when you look at the increase in self destructive behavior and attitudes as opposed to the increase and popularity in the negative media influences targeting this vulnerable population it is hard to discount.
Don't get me wrong I don't want to blame all the problems with teens on the media. I grew up in the 80's listening to the uproar concerning the heavy metal and punk rock of my era. Media has been blamed for teen rebellion since the days of Elvis. I am also a parent of six who has survived the fads and phases of children and teens more than a few times. But, this latest development is one that I have watched with skepticism and caution. Only a few of my children ever watched this type of programming and from what observed I found the result interesting and disturbing. Of those children who did watch I saw more self-esteem issues, more self-image problems, higher levels of emotionalism and a general dissatisfaction with life. I also saw an increase in rebellious acting out and self destructive behavior. In addition, the teen developed an attitude of entitlement counter productive to goal setting, cooperation and gratification delay. In conclusion as a parent and counselor I would suggest parents exercise caution. If you can outlaw your teens watching this type of programming, go for it. However, it may not be worth the battle since many tire of the drama and nonsense on their own but at the very least limit viewing of these type of programs and talk to your teens concerning the negative attitudes and behaviors portrayed
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