Teens and their parents can often feel like they're living on two totally different planets, speaking different languages and seeing two different worlds. One way to combat that? Start watching completely contrived worlds together, in the form of TV.
In a study released today from Netflix, the online TV site revealed that 82 per cent of Canadian parents have watched one of their teens' shows to feel closer to them, and in turn, three-quarters of teens surveyed around the world say they'd love to talk to their parents about their TV shows.
Now of course, Netflix has everything to gain by promoting more TV watching (and we also suspect parents are watching so-called teen shows because, well, they're great), but there's some good evidence to back this up.
Thanks to phones, tablets and on-demand television, people's viewing habits have become far more individualized than in the past, and getting the family all together in a pleasant manner is easiest to achieve in front of the TV.
In a Mintel study from 2016, it was found that, "Today’s parents are more attentive, but feel time starved and more distant than past generations. While eating dinner together as a family is seen as being ‘quality time’ and a bonding experience, so too is watching television, but where it comes top is in helping families relax — relaxation is something that almost two thirds of respondent associate with TV viewing."
As for what to watch, Netflix has plenty of suggestions there too, but it's probably "13 Reasons Why," the show about a high schooler who kills herself and leaves behind clues as to why it happened that is currently most relevant. As Cafe Mom notes in a piece explaining why this is a great show for parents to watch, "For many parents, it's been a decade or more since walking the high school halls, and, thanks to social media, plenty has changed — and not for the better."
Thanks to phones, tablets and on-demand television, people's viewing habits have become far more individualized than in the past.
Whichever show you might choose to watch with your kids, it can certainly lay the groundwork for bigger discussions that can be hard to approach in a casual manner, like say, talking about dating or drugs.
And the benefits don't just come with older kids either. In a recent study about the positive effects of watching "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood," a show geared towards preschoolers, it was noted that kids who watched the show had higher levels of empathy and were more confident in social situations — but only when their parents encouraged them to talk about what they'd watched. In other words, parents had to be there with the kids, taking in the lessons too.
Common Sense Media, an organization dedicated to making technology a positive force in kids' lives, has a great list of shows to watch with your teenager, including "Amazing Race," "Black-ish," "Stranger Things," "Freaks and Geeks," and a whole lot more.
So the next time your kid is about to retreat to their room with their phone to watch a show, reel them into the living room by putting on whatever they want, pulling up a chair and hopefully, letting the bonding begin.