Why 13 Reasons Why

Suicide, upskirt photos, social media, bullying… it’s almost as if someone posted a hidden camera in the hallways of the high school down your street. The realism is a little too close to home, and parents are beginning to worry.

Should our kids be watching this?

If you have teenagers, work with teenagers or even have crossed paths with a teenager in the last month, you probably have heard them talking about 13 Reasons Why. It’s the newest bingeable series from Netflix touching on everything teenager.

The story is about Hannah Baker, a high school girl who decides to end her own life, only after making old school cassette tape recordings of the “13 reasons why” she chose to do so, tapes she sent to the people she blames.

The show, rated TV-MA, shows very mature content including suicide, rape, sexual situations and foul language. Some experts are concerned the show glamorizes suicide. Others say it’s providing a great opportunity to talk with young people about suicide risk, self-esteem, social media and bullying.

Who’s right?

Here’s the thing. The question I keep hearing parents asking is, “Are you sure kids should be watching this.” I’m not disagreeing with the question. I just don’t think it’s the right question. Why?

Kids are already watching this.

It’s out there.

Sad fact, but most moms and dads aren’t aware what their kids are watching. So even if your kids aren’t watching it, their friends are, and now most kids want to see it. I’m not telling you to let your kids watch it. I’m just advising, whether your kids watch it or not, parents need to talk about this.

Here are 4 articles that will help you with these conversations:

  1. Realize we can’t block everything. This doesn’t mean allow everything in your house; it just means conversations are still necessary. Don’t just “hope for the best.”
  2. Look for every opportunity to connect with your kids, with and without devices. Here’s my top 5 ways.
  3. Be aware what your kids are accessing on their devices. Here are 5 steps parents can’t take to do this.
  4. This week my friend Rob Chagdes wrote a brand new article on TheSource4Parents.com unpacking 13 Reasons Why and highlighting two glaring truths the debatable series unveiled.

For more parenting help from parents who have been there, check out my brand new book, If I Had a Parenting Do Over: 7 Vital Changes I’d Make

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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One Response to Why 13 Reasons Why

  1. Nena says:

    You’re absolutely right Jonathan. This show has gained so much popularity and publicity, it makes it even more exciting for teens to see out of curiosity. And if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. It’d be better if parents/guardians can watch it with their kids so they can input insights about the issues being shown. If they are not watching it, they are probably talking about it in school. So yeah, better talk to them about it. In my opinion, I wished Hannah didn’t kill herself. There may be a lot of sad things that happened, but I believe that everyone can rise up after every fall. Life’s not perfect but it can be lived happily.

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