Last year, Jersey Shore took the ‘reality TV’ world by storm, and frankly, I was disgusted. MTV took their old recipe for reality TV-gold and did it again — profanity, alcohol abuse and the sexual escapades of a bunch of 20-somethings running amuck at the beach with no sense of responsibility or consequence – and society ate it up. But, at least these people were adults.
Now, we’ve sunk even lower.
MTV’s new drama series, “Skins,” premiered this week, and many are saying it borders on child pornography. In this series, we see actors younger than 18 years old in a scripted drama dealing with drugs, alcohol and sex – and it’s all made to look very hip and cool. Which makes me think, perhaps a more appropriate name for the show might be “Sins.”
Even worse, it’s getting great ratings on TV. All the kids are watching this crap. I get it. I know that the current fad in television is reality shows and ‘scripted reality’ shows where we see people’s daily lives and challenges. Personally, think it’s a lot of bull, but I get its commercial value for media companies.
But where do we draw the line? How can I be a parent today?
Someone once said to me that being a parent is the best thing in the world, as long as you’re a ‘good’ one. Bull. Our society does not allow us to be ‘good’ parents.
What constitutes being a good parent? Making sure that your children have a roof over their heads, that there’s food on the table, and that you constantly communicate to them right from wrong and lead by example, that you discipline them when necessary, but praise them equally when they make the right decision . . . sounds good, right? Well, unfortunately, these things are just not enough anymore.
These days, our society echoes of Sodom and Gomorrah.
The reason that I make such a harsh comparison, that many people will call me crazy for doing -- is because I am a huge advocate for talking to your children about drugs and sex, and monitoring their habits for any warning signs. But these days, accessibility to all forms of media and the messages we are sending to our children under the guise of “entertainment” are making it extremely challenging to be a good parent.
And I think that shows like “Skins” just add to the problem of kids jumping on the bandwagon and trying to mimic their favorite television stars.
Don’t believe me? A 2010 study published in the American Academy of Pediatrics found more than 75 percent of primetime programs contain sexual content, but few of them bothered to mention the risks or repercussions of sexual activity. Exposure to this content during early adolescence as much as doubled the risk of early sexual intercourse.
And, according to another study, guess which other risk doubled as well? Teen pregnancy.
It comes down to this: Younger children who watch “adult” television shows and movies are more likely to have sex at an earlier age than those who don’t.
Many people say, “But wait, Dr. Manny, you can block all of this from getting to your kids. Make sure that they don’t watch TV, block the Internet sites.”
Yeah, right. Media content today is liquid. It seeps through the pores of multiple venues.
Sure, your kids don’t watch it at home. That means they’re watching it at a friend’s house, or they’re all watching it at another friend’s house. Or, they’re watching on a school computer when nobody’s looking. They could even watch it on an iPhone or other smartphone. Give me a break!
This liquid pornography will not stop spreading until some adults wake up and realize that between the debt we have created for our children, and the very children we are creating, America will have no future.
Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. For more information on Dr. Manny's work, visit AskDrManny.com.