If you think TV is pure entertainment, think again. Real teen Noa Schumann, 15, a Youth Leadership Team member for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy explains what some of her peers pick up from their favorite shows—and why she thinks parents need to hear about it.
You can learn about absolutely anything on television and the Internet—from how to perfectly apply eye makeup to what Taylor Swift is up to right this second. And, of course, kids find a lot of information about sex and relationships there. While it can be more comfortable to find the answers to our questions online (you never have to have those awkward conversations), it’s really important to talk to someone and be able to ask questions when needed.
Case in point: A while back a friend and I were watching a show called Gossip Girl together. In one of the episodes, there's a rumor that a girl on the show has an STD, and two boys who have been with her in the past go to get tested. My friend had actually never heard of an STD before, and this came as a shock to me. I tried my best to explain it to her but I ended up sending her online. It would’ve been better if we’d had someone to talk to. It's really important to talk to someone you can trust and to be able to ask questions when needed. It’s hard to bring up these topics with parents, which is why I think parents should try to bring them up first. Even if we don’t ask direct questions, we definitely have them.
Entertainment media have a huge effect on teens today and can shape our opinions on sex, relationships and dating. Talking about a situation on TV instead of talking about our own lives can feel less pressured. But no matter how awkward “the talk” is, all parents should speak honestly with their teens about sex and consequences, so teens can be prepared. We have so many resources available to us, but I think one of the best should be our own parents.
Noa Schumann is a Youth Leadership Team member for The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Find out more about the campaign and its resources for teens, like StayTeen.org. To learn more about talking to your kids about social media, check out Family Circle's guide.