Wednesday, September 23, 2009

TV 101: Primetime Education

This week marked the official start of autumn; however the signs of its inevitable approach and the end of summer have been around for weeks. Kids are back in school, weekends are now comprised of college football and tailgating, and the temperature seems to finally be cooling off. Another sure sign of fall’s encroachment are the season premieres of our favorite shows. As a self-proclaimed TV junkie, I must admit I am quite excited for the return of Biggest Loser (NBC) and Grey’s Anatomy (ABC), but from a professional standpoint, season premieres are a great time to incorporate those “teachable moments” we always talk about.

As research for this entry, I decided to tune into a few episodes of the CW’s 90210. For those of you who are unaware, the show is a revamp of the early 90’s hit series. Set in Beverly Hills, the characters in the show are faced with the same problems that are targeting our current youth. In just two episodes, the show has addressed such topics as alcohol abuse, sexual promiscuity, sexting and even teen pregnancy, some of the very same issues taking place in the hallways of South Carolina’s middle and high schools at this very moment.

So what does this mean? Whether it’s 90201 or another show, sit down and watch an episode or two with your kids and look for those teachable moments. By watching their favorite show with them, you are entering into their world, and you may find they have let down their walls and are a little more receptive to engaging in an open and honest conversation with you. Ask them how they feel about the issues being portrayed on TV, what decisions they might have made and whether or not they have any questions. Most importantly, remember that conversations regarding adolescent sexual health and risky behaviors should be ongoing.  National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy reported (With One Voice, Spring 2009) that teens continue to say that parental/guardian influence still has the greatest impact on their decisions regarding sex. Make your voice heard and continue to look for those teachable moments, as teens really are listening to what you have to say even if they appear to be disengaged.

by: Jessica Cooper, Graduate Assistant, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy
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