Like many parents, teenagers are becoming more and more attached to their favourite TV series thanks to the influence of the “Netflix Era”. Because visual entertainment has become easily accessible (particularly on devices), it’s important that parents are fully aware of what messages and themes are being depicted throughout the series their teens are viewing. From romance, sex, and violence to everything in between, we’ve compiled a list of popular shows your teenagers are probably watching (or wanting to) and highlighted issues you should consider about each.
Riverdale – 13+
One of the most popular shows on Netflix right now, Riverdale (based on the iconic Archie comics) follows a tight-knit group of high school students who are connected to a murder mystery. Throughout the series, there is sexualisation of characters including shirtless males, couples “making out”, and an affair between a student and a teacher, along with infrequent swearing. This show has some positive messages and role models that teenagers may relate to.
Teen Wolf – 13+
Another series your teen may have mentioned, Teen Wolf is about a young werewolf and his friends. What’s good about this show is that it has some awesome role models and messages about friendship, sacrifice, and self-confidence, and also portrays romantic relationships in a positive manner. What may be concerning is the violence shown throughout the series, mostly depicted during “human vs werewolf” battles.
Family Guy and South Park –14+
These animated comedies are extremely popular within the teenage demographic for their humorous characters and creative storylines. Despite the shows’ intentions to encourage laughter, they do so via the inclusion of offensive behaviour and language. There are also frequent scenes and innuendo related to sex, violence, and alcohol/drugs.
Pretty Little Liars – 14+
One of the most-loved series by teenage girls, Pretty Little Liars is a suspenseful drama with plenty of mystery. Although there are some positive messages depicted, there are various scenes where moderate sexual content, violence, and explicit language occur.
Geordie Shore – 15+
Geordie Shore observes a group of young British “Geordies” (people from a particular geographic area in England) who travel around Europe getting drunk and misbehaving. Throughout the episodes, there are often scenes related to sex, alcohol, and some violence. Although this show doesn’t present many positive messages, many teens love the drama and humour.
The Walking Dead – 15+
The Walking Dead is a zombie apocalypse drama with an extremely violent plot base, which often includes scenes of death, blood, and half-eaten corpses. Throughout episodes, some sexual content and explicit language are shown and used. Parents should be aware that this is one of the most popular shows among teenagers (especially boys), with many addicted to the action, violence, and well-developed characters.
13 Reasons Why – 18 + (or watch with parental supervision)
Parents need to be aware that the messages and scenes within this show may be highly distressing to some viewers. 13 Reasons Why tackles the issues of bullying and suicide within a high school environment. The series also deals with rape, mental illness, drug use, violence, and frequent offensive language. Because of this, NZ censors believe parents should supervise their teenager if they feel their teen is ready to watch the show, as it does inspire the discussion of many important issues.
Game of Thrones – 18+ (or watch with parental supervision)
Many parents are familiar with Game of Thrones, one of the most captivating television series of our generation. Although it is known for its incredible cinematography and acting, Game of Thrones is also heavy on sex, violence, and explicit language, which may be unsuitable for many teenagers. Incest, rape, and brutal sexual acts are also depicted. Because of this, it is recommended children under 18 are supervised while watching this show.
Ages recommended are by parents on Common Sense Media
By Finn Jelicich