Adolescent Adults on Television

According to research done by the Parents Televison Council, the average child between the ages of 2 and 17 spends approximately four hours every day viewing some sort of media – that’s between twenty and thirty hours a week.  The media influences children’s interpretation of values and morals.
Characters on “tween” shows have a disrespectful and condescending attitude toward their parents and other adult figures. 

While teenagers throughout the ages have always felt anger and resentment toward their parents, the portrayed attitude of teenage characters on television amplifies this attitude, decreasing teenagers’ respect toward adults. Adults in teenager sitcoms are portrayed as adolescents in order to appeal to a younger audience.

For example, on the television show iCarly on Nickelodeon, the parents of the main character, Carly, are not cast.  Instead, Carly lives with her older brother Spencer, an artist, who lets her do anything she pleases.

In this picture, we see the immaturity of the “adult” figure in the show.  While this is fun and entertaining for iCarly‘s viewers, it  subconsciously influences them to think that “cool” adults act childish, and so they respect their parents less.

The only other adult figure in iCarly is Mrs. Benson, Carly’s friend’s mother, who is portrayed and exaggerated as an irrational, crazy, strange parent (fig 2).

Fig 2: “iMove Out: Asparagus.” iCarly. Nickelodeon. Web. 4 Nov. 2011.

While Mrs. Benson has good intentions and is teaching her son valuable lessons, she does it obnoxiously. The show makes virtues, eating your vegetables and not swearing, seem ridiculous, crazy, and comical.
Modern media takes this approach, but older media took the exact opposite approach.  For example, in The Donna Reed Show, family life was portrayed as traditional, orderly, and almost “too” perfect.  Figure 3 shows the opening credits that would play before an episode would air:

Fig. 3: The Donna Reed Show. ABC. 24 Sept. 1958. Web. 3 Nov. 2011

This portrayal of the “perfect” family life is also ridiculous, because most Americans, even in the 1950s, do not live this way.   The media should not portray parents as adolescents in order to relate to their primary audience. Should the media portray parents realistically — as human beings who also make mistakes? Or should it portray parents as perfect human beings with all answers? Shows for teenagers on Disney Channel and Nickelodeon should portray parents as people with a positive influence – humans beings that can make mistakes, but are rational and act the way they do out of love.
Works Cited
“Sex, Violence, and Profanity in the Media Fact Sheet, TV Statistics – Parents Television Council.” Parents Television Council – Because Our Children Are Watching. Web. 07 Nov. 2011. 

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