I have written previously about how we watch Netflix with our children and connect over our enjoyment of a show or use the subject of a program to discuss difficult issues. Here, and here, are a couple of examples. It would seem our household is not alone in this. A recent worldwide survey commissioned by Netflix has revealed that the majority of parents and teens see watching together as an effective way to connect.
Want to see what happens when parents watch their teen’s shows?
If you’re thinking of watching 13 Reasons Why with your teen and are looking for additional information, here are some resources to help navigate the conversation: 13 Reasons Why Talking Points (created by SAVE.org and the JED Foundation) and the after-show titled 13 Reasons Why: Beyond The Reasons. If you are immediately concerned about a teen in your life, you can find a list of local resources on this 13 Reasons Why Global Resource Website
Here are some highlights of the survey with my comments added:
Are parents seriously watching their teens favourite shows?
Canadian parents (82%) admit they are already watching shows like Supernatural, Pretty Little Liars and Stranger Things to feel closer to their teenager. And teens around the world (74%) are on board, saying they’d be interested in talking to parents about the shows they watch, with both sides (89% of parents and 70% of teens) seeing it as a strong way to bond.
We often watch shows with our kids, and it always evokes discussion. Sometimes it is just a chat about what will happen in the next series (what will happen with eleven and will we spend more time in the upside down?) and other times it is about more serious topics. Either way, it gets us talking.
Bridging the conversation gap.
While 56% of parents in Canada think it’s tough to talk to teens, nearly all parents worldwide (93%) feel that watching their TV shows will give them more to talk about and 78% of teens agree. Not only that but watching shows teens are watching every now and then inspires more than just small talk.
TV has been great as a conversation starter for us and our teens. Sometimes we’ll ask if they want to watch something with us, other times they will recommend a program. It always moves onto a longer talk be it how Luke Cage fits into the Marvel universe or the CIA’s role in the cocaine trafficking of the 1980’s.
Tackling tough topics.
When it comes to tough conversations (think sex, bullying, and stress), parents (79%) and teens (65%) agree that watching the same shows could help start a dialogue. And most teens (71%) even admit that having their parents watch their favorite shows could help them better understand what’s going on in their lives.
I chose not to watch Thirteen Reasons Why because I knew I would find some of the content too traumatic to watch. However, both of our teenage sons watched it and were gripped. When your son comes upstairs in tears and tells you he had to take a break from watching a program there is no better opportunity to discuss the difficult topics that can be tough to bring up out of context.
So what should parents be watching?
According to teens, content found in shows like Supernatural, Breaking Bad, Daredevil, Friends, Grey’s Anatomy and Orange is the New Black might give parents and teens more to talk about and even help parents better relate to them.
We choose programs to share with our teenagers according to what we would all find interesting. That includes: Orange is the New Black, Breaking Bad, House of Cards, Narcos, Friends, and most of the Marvel series’. Having been a huge fan of Friends way back when it was a new show it was great fun to share insider jokes with our sons and now we all know the words to “Smelly Cat.”