Do you know what your kids are watching online?

Netflix has become a great way to catch all the latest shows, especially for teens who are watching them on smaller and smaller screens, or alone in their bedrooms.  Parents are generally less aware of what their kids are watching, so co-viewing shows is a recommended way to make sure you are comfortable with the media your child is consuming. It’s also a good way to have a common ground for discussing sensitive topics.  Below we have provided a list of TV shows and movies that are available on Netflix and are about kids and technology.  We have divided them by age groups and included a synopsis of the show and the major themes.  We have also provided questions that could be potential conversation starters for you with your child.  Note that the age guidelines are somewhat arbitrary.  You know your child best, including what they are ready for.

Older Teens (16+):

Black Mirror (Season 3, Episode 1)

Synopsis: This is a science fiction TV show that examines modern society. This episode focuses on how immersed our lives are in social media

Themes: pressure to have a perfect image on social media; social justice and inequities; seamlessness between online and face-to-face worlds.

Conversation Starters: Do you think there is a difference in how you portray yourself online vs real life?  Should there be (e.g., does it matter if they are the same)?

13 Reasons Why: Beyond the Reasons

Synopsis: This is a follow up discussion of 13 Reasons Why with the cast, producers, and mental health professionals.

Themes: suicide, bullying, cyberbullying micro-aggression, sexual assault

Conversation Starters: Do you think a similar scenario could ever play out at your school?  Why or why not?  What would you have done to help Hannah?  What would you do if you ever felt the way Hannah did?

Audrey and Daisy

Synopsis: This is an intense movie that is based on a true story of sexual assault and suicide.

Themes: sexual assault, suicide, misogyny and exploitation of women.

Conversation Starters:   Shows like this often inadvertently glorify suicide because they often focus on the attention and impact of the suicide (e.g., the wall of messages at the end of the movie). Did this movie glorify suicide? What could these girls have done differently?  Why do you think they had different outcomes?  What would you do if something like this happened to you, or a friend?  (Parents:  take this opportunity to remind your teenager to seek the support of a trusted adult in these situations)

Younger Teens (13-15 year olds)

Pretty Little Liars

Synopsis: This is a TV series that is teen drama and mystery.  There are seven seasons, and the ongoing story themes involve aspects of technology and social media.

Themes: Cyberbullying, blackmail, anonymous stalking, friendship

Conversation Starters: Who would you talk to if you were the girls?  How do you think things would have turned out differently if they had talked to somebody at the beginning? What would you do if somebody had something incriminating about you?

A Girl Like Her

Synopsis: This is a ‘found footage’ movie that explores the events surrounding a high school student’s attempted suicide after being cyberbullied.

Themes: suicide, cyberbullying, physical aggression, micros-aggression, self-esteem

Conversation Starters:   Shows like this often inadvertently glorify suicide because they often focus on the attention and impact of the suicide. Did this movie glorify suicide? Does this movie seem realistic to you? What would you do if you had a friend who was suicidal and where would you go to get (Parents:  take this opportunity to remind your teenager to seek the support of a trusted adult in these situations).

Pre-Teens (ages 10-12)

Reality High

Synopsis: This is a movie that chronicles the transformation of a high school student when she is exposed to the life style of a social media star.

Themes: social media; going viral; instafamous; popularity; not being true to self

Conversation Starters: What do you think your life would be like if you were instafamous. Would you change to become popular, or if you did become popular?

In the movie, why was it okay for the sister to film but not Alexa? Do you agree with this? If you were Danny what would you have done differently.

Degrassi: Next Class

Synopsis: This is a Canadian teen drama television series. Many of the episodes deal with social media or device use.

Themes: online personas, cyberbullying, self-harm blogs, text mis-communications

Conversation Starters (for Season 1, Episode 8, which is about being trolled online): How would you respond to a troll? Who would you go to for help? Would you intervene if you saw somebody being trolled online?

Conversation Starters (for Season 2, Episode 4, which is about online dating): What are your thoughts on online dating?  How would you feel about meeting up with someone you met online?