Netflix controversial ’13 Reasons Why’ series was released back in April 2017 and it has been linked to increasing teen death rates.
What is ’13 Reasons Why’ ?
- Highly popular drama series targeted towards teens on Netflix
- It is about a young teenage girl, Hannah Baker who takes her own life because of bullying in school
- Before killing herself she creates a cassette to each of her bullies whom she feels is responsible for her death
- Season 2 of the show drew 6 million U.S. viewers within the first 3 days of release.
Why should parents care about ’13 Reasons Why’:
❌A new study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry found that one month after the release of the show there was a rise in teen suicide rates compared to that same period 5 years ago.
❌The show was criticized during its release by mental health campaigners for romanticising the idea of suicide.
❌The problem is that experts argue that it glorifies suicide and could lead to similar behavior by other teens.
❌The published report showed that suicide during April 2017 was higher among boys and while there was an increase for girls, it was not significant.
❌While the show depicts how hard the life of a teenager can be, it still does not give a message of empowerment to teens. In fact, I think this show can be quite terrifying.
❌It does NOT even show what people can do to prevent suicides. Or how they can identify and help friends who are in trouble. The least they could have done is to show teens how they can be supportive of their friends.
❌The other problem with this series is that it shows the amount of thought that goes into a suicide attempt- for instance, the idea that someone can make all these tapes about how they felt before committing suicide. Dr. John Ackerman writes in a blog post, “It is unrealistic for someone, especially a teenager in the midst of an emotional crisis, to construct an elaborate series of tapes all the while maintaining a sarcastic, witty, and glib tone towards people she blames for her decision to end her life.”
❌Suicide prevention advocate Dan Reidenberg said on Good Morning America, “The show doesn’t talk about mental illness or depression, doesn’t name those words.” Thus giving an inaccurate description of mental health struggles which can lead to stigma and discrimination.
❌There are depictions of graphic suicide and rape. There are things that anyone under 15 should NOT be seeing.
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Netflix response to ’13 Reasons Why’ critics:
❌Sadly, Netflix responded by saying that “no one is being forced to tune in to the show.”
✅To keep the show going and to address to all those critics Netflix has added a new advisory video in front of season 2. The video warns viewers to get help if they feel suicidal.
✅It also has a web resource on the website 13reasonswhy.info.
✅Netflix also produced two after-show-style discussion specials called “Beyond the Reasons”. It breaks down the series with experts, educators and shows actors at the end of each episode.
While Netflix is taking steps to tackle some of the critics, it’ clearly is not enough in preventing similar behavior copied by teens.
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Parent’s here’s what you can do if your child wants to watch ’13 Reasons Why’:
- Watch it first before allowing your child to watch this show. Be aware that there are graphic scenes, so you need to assess if your child is ready for mature content
- Understand why your child wants to watch the show. If your teen wants to watch it cause everyone in school is doing so then watch it along with them. Kids can be very creative in getting what they want, so if they insist on watching they will find a way to do it. So it’s better to use this opportunity to start a conversation on difficult subjects like suicide and bullying instead of banning it. Also, monitor your child for any change in their behavior.
- If your child is not ready for the content of the show then explain your reasons to them. Let them know once they are more grown up that you will watch it together.
- After every episode have a discussion with your teen about what they think about the show. Discuss mental health struggles with your child.
- Ask them if they think any of their friends might feel this way
- Discuss with them how will they will help a friend if they are in trouble
- Let your kids know the helpline numbers. In case they need to talk to someone and also they can use it to help their classmates
Here are other tips to you keep children safe in the digital age :
Cyber Flashing :The new online safety threat on your kid’s iPhone
10 things you can do right now to keep your children safe: Easy and clever online safety tips
3 dangerous places for children to be online : 3 places kids should have limited internet access
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