Our fast moving digital age influences how kids and parents connect – both positively and negatively. Technology like Netflix’s live streaming service offers shows that can be a key tool to bridge the conversation gap.
You may not always understand your teen or tween. Guaranteed that they don’t always understand where we as parents are coming from – we’re ancient, doncha know?
Are your kids talking to you? Do you worry about being that parent caught by surprise? Out of the loop?
I think about how all these things will affect my children in their meaning making, the choices they make, their self-esteem and emotional well being, and the human beings they are becoming
Digital Mama Drama
As a mom, I worry about my kids. It’s part of my job.
Growing up with social media has brought about different issues for our kids – or at least intensified them! This digital age of communication also means our kids can so easily turn to other sources to talk about anything and everything.
I am concerned about how my tweens make sense of all the information at their fingertips. What if they find the wrong information needed to make the right decisions? Even stumble across inappropriate images – like pornography or the recent online murders!?
I care about how they will experience any number of negative and positive social situations like friendships, sports, clubs, dating, bullying – especially when social media makes everything so immediate and accessible. As an ADHD parent, my fears have teeth knowing that many kids with Neurodiversity struggle socially, often simply because their emotional maturity tends to lag behind that of their peers.
I think about how all these things will affect my children in their meaning making, the choices they make, their self-esteem and emotional well being, and the human beings they are becoming.
Mostly, I worry that I will miss an opportunity to connect and guide them because they aren’t turning to me to talk about all these things.
Connect over Entertainment
Like me, most parents and kids still want to connect.
Unfortunately, our conversation is sometimes halted by tween ‘tude shortly after “How was your day?” No way is my tween talking to me about sex because when I bring up the big topics, my efforts are shut down. I may as well be talking to…the…hand. *Insert Dramatic Eye Roll Here
So now what? How do I connect?
A recent Netflix study reveals a new place where you can find common ground: Entertainment.
With the majority (89%) of Canadian parents agreeing entertainment would give them something to talk about, let Netflix be the common ground and try taking a walk in your kid’s shows. (See what I did there?)
Bridge the 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. 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 favourite shows could help them better understand what’s going on in their lives.
Watching a show together and discussing problems as they related to someone else created the space that allowed our real conversation to begin
Being able to connect over entertainment seemed too easy somehow but it worked to get my tight lipped tweenager talking – even about the important stuff!
Conversation Starter: Netflix to the Rescue
Our conversation was so much easier when we were able to talk about things after watching shows together.
My family, hit by a killer flu, recently took the opportunity to tuck in cozy and Netflix binge without guilt. The brothers undertook a serious Marvel marathon while my daughter joined me in watching Grey’s Anatomy elsewhere in the house.
And it happened: she started asking me questions. While our discussion initially centred around the characters and storyline, the chat naturally moved into more personal territory.
Watching a show together and discussing problems as they related to someone else created the space that allowed our real conversation to begin.
Grab the remote control!
What to Watch?
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.
The biggest buzz these days is all about 13 Reasons Why! People have been talking about it all over the web. Check out these posts from my fellow Netflix Stream Team members: 6 Reasons Why by Carin’s teenage daughter at Eclectic Soap Box, Merry and Jamie who discuss the divide in 13 Reasons Why and More. Shows to Watch with your Teen and 13 Reasons Why Tackles Issues Parents Need to Talk About with their Teens and fellow Albertan Buzz Bishop who shares a wee rant in 13 Reasons Why You Need to Talk to Your Kids. Most impactful are those sharing personal stories about the memories the series conjures up for them.
Not everyone thinks the series makes for good discussion. School Boards are issuing guidelines to teachers and some schools are actually going so far as to send out letters to the parents that recommend children not watch the show. Maybe we should start censoring thought and burning books again too?
While we have decided that my middle school tween is not quite ready to watch the series, we will be talking about the issues as appropriate. As we most often do, we are starting with the book to guide our conversations. I plan to preview the Netflix series on my own so I know first hand how to support her when she is ready or the issues come up elsewhere.
If burying your head in the sand isn’t your thing either and you’re thinking of watching with your teen, 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 market resources on this 13 Reasons Why Global Resource Website
Tough as they are, these are important conversations worth having. Stop simply worrying and start paying attention and watching shows together that can get you talking.
Who knew couch parenting could actually be a more active way to stay connected and involved with your child?
Disclosure: I am so darn happy to be a part of the Netflix Stream Team! #Netflix #StreamTeam. I receive promotional items and a Netflix subscription in order to find great content that I can share with YOU. #Sponsored As always, all opinions are my own.
But really, who doesn’t love Netflix?