Nickelodeon is the popular station we all watched as children. The majority of their programming is aimed at children ages 6-14. I look back at my days of watching Nickelodeon and remember Doug Funny, Tommy Pickles, brothers with the same name, and green slime everywhere. the shows were innocent, generally with a lesson to learn, but generally very age appropriate and light hearted.
The Nickelodeon of yesteryear is gone. While I’m sure they have shows similar to the ones we hold near and dear as children growing up in the 90′s, some of the other shows in the line-up are anything but age appropriate or light hearted. For example, Degrassi: The Next Generation.
Degrassi: The Next Generation is a spin off of an early 90′s show, Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High. I am not familiar with these shows, but they aired on CBC and were apparently similar to 90210 and Saved by the Bell. Degrassi: The next Generation is nothing compared to the PG rated Saved by the Bell. This show tackles tough issues such as sex, teen pregnancy, drug use, rape, alcohol, and pornography. It is marketed as a show similar to The O.C., One Tree Hill, and even Sex and the City. While these shows are all well received in their demographic, they are not meant for children.
I caught a few episodes of the show after reading about it online and was shocked at some of the issues they are addressing in the story line. After discussing this with a colleague, the argument was raised that this is what kids face these days.
But my question is, what came first, the chicken or the television show?
What came first…children dealing with elevated sexuality at younger ages, or entertainment sources making sex at a younger age not only acceptable, but desirable? I understand that children are dealing with these issues at a younger age, but are television programs and movies making it alright for kids to be dealing with these issues? This station targets kids as young as age 6. Why is this show associated with Nickelodeon at all? Should this show be on a station that better suits the issues…perhaps MTV? A slightly older audience?
Another argument made by my colleague was that the parents should be watching what a child is putting into their minds. While I completely agree with this argument, shouldn’t a station that targets kids be a safe choice? Even if parents put a child block on the stations that target more adult audiences, the stations meant for kids are still going to expose these young minds to issues that they may not have even been aware of yet, and are not mature enough to handle. When they see these issues, they think that it is “normal” for a could to have sex in a limo during a school dance, and then take the morning after pill to erase all of their fears. (This was an actual storyline from an episode that I caught. Nevermind the risk of STDs or the morning after pill not working, but the emotional impact of losing virginity was never addressed in the episode.) If kids think it is “normal” to be having sex so casually, they are more at risk to be making these poor choices. It is heartbreaking.
What happened to children being innocent? Why can kids not just be KIDS anymore?
What do you think of Degrassi:The Next Generation? Do you think kids are being exposed to too much, too young?