Do you know what the most popular show on Netflix is right now? Your kids do. Whether you know it or not, your kids are very likely watching and talking about 13 Reasons Why, a series based on the 2011 best-selling Jay Asher book by the same name. In it, teen Hannah Baker leaves behind 13 cassette tapes explaining in explicit detail why she chose to kill herself. Each tape is dedicated to one of Hannah’s peers, calling them out for the things they have done to her and ways they’ve caused her harm.
Some people are calling 13 Reasons Why a force for mental health and suicide awareness. While others argue that the show’s good intentions to shed light on adolescent emotional trauma instead dangerously sensationalizes self-harm, sexual assault and suicide.
Here’s the thing though…your kids are watching it and this gives you an opportunity to discuss these important issues with your children and offer your outlook on the show’s depiction of teen angst and the graphically-illustrated consequences of teen decision-making displayed on screen.
From a Savvy Cyber Kids point of view, cyber ethics are at play throughout the series. And this is where as parents, we can only assume to understand what it means to be a teen in the age of digital. Imagine some of your most challenging teen experiences, the ones that really tripped you up and made you question how or if you fit in…the ones that made you feel humiliated and alone. Now, imagine what you would have felt if social media had magnified those experiences and worsened the depth of your negative thinking.
Our kids are navigating the teen years like all teens before them but with this added tool that can be used for good — or for bad. It’s up to us to remind kids to pause before posting and to use empathy above all in social media actions.
Talk about 13 Reasons Why with your child. Sure, you can have “the sex talk” in this conversation. But bring up “the tech talk” too and ask your child how they think technology shaped the narrative of the series and how it impacted the choices made by the teens in 13 Reasons Why.