July 11, 2017

Pushing the Boundaries: Media and Teens

When did I get this old? I mean, I realize I have experienced my healthy share of birthdays which makes me older on paper. I've noticed the creeping wrinkles on my forehead and around my eyes, and I'm sure if I were not as vigilant about coloring my hair, I would also see some grays popping through with exponential frequency. When I say "old," I don't mean the number of candles on my cake each year. When did I get so old that when I open (or dare say, click on) a magazine article for a teen publication, I am dumbfounded and breathless because of its shocking content?

I feel like a mother in the 50's who just discovered her teen listening to Elvis because I recently found out that Teen Vogue is once again pushing the boundaries with their journalism. You may remember the article about a post-abortion gift guide that they published some months ago? We'll save that discussion for another time and place. But, now they have an article committed entirely to teaching teenagers how to have anal sex. Why am I so shocked by this? I mean I have a degree in Journalism for goodness sakes. I was taught about sensationalizing and pushing boundaries and yes, our First Amendment Rights. I appreciate the craft of journalistic nuance and the commitment to bring meaningful content and newsworthy material to readers. But is that what this is?

What I cannot endorse is journalism without the consideration of audience and when it is executed in a manner completely devoid of moral aptitude. Teen Vogue is not it's counterpart Vogue, a publication where this type of article would make sense. It is written for an audience who is not legally able to drink or vote. Do they have sex - yes! Are they interested in learning about themselves as sexual beings with raging hormones - yes! I acknowledge that the audience is interested in this content, just like my four-year-old is interested in guns and fighting. That fact alone does not make it appropriate to give him a step-by-step guide on how to be a super villain, and it is my opinion that this material is completely inappropriate for a teen-focused magazine.

If internet, music, and television media are held to appropriate age standards in regard to content creation, with warning labels displayed when necessary, why is it that a teen publication is able to publish very adult content without repercussions? Why aren't parents everywhere kicking down the doors of Conde Nast in disgrace? When did it become a magazine's duty to educate our children on what is proper sexual behavior? Furthermore, when did we expect our children (because teens are still children in the eyes of the law) to be adults? Why is it necessary to make this type of content so accessible to them? As a mother, as a woman, as a journalist - I am outraged.

My children are too young to read, let alone understand the content of the magazine, but if a TEEN magazine needs to publish salacious material just to stay relevant maybe, they should reconsider their audience. There is a place for this type of content, and it is in the pages of an adult-targeted magazine, not one for 14-year-old high schoolers. The responsibility of having a conversation like this is up to parents and not a publically-traded, big media publishing company. Again my issue is not with the content but with the vehicle and its intended audience.

Maybe I am the one who needs the reality check. Maybe I am living in a suburban fantasy world where parents actually speak and educate their children in a time and an age-appropriate manner. I admit I might be the one who needs to sit down and give myself a real education on the kind of content that is relevant to teenagers - and then I'm sure I'll need some serious prayer time.

Parents, I encourage you to be vigilant about censoring the type of content you let your children absorb. Decide what is best for you and your family and proceed in a manner which you are most comfortable. Do not allow media outlets to dictate what is right and reasonable - make those decisions for you and your family.

Pushing the Boundaries: Media and Teens as it relates to the recent Teen Vogue article

Whoo, rant over, how's your Tuesday going?

Be Blessed,
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  1. ....... I'm in shock I didn't know about either of these things in a teen magazine! I mean an adult one fine! If this is ok then we need to rethink many things like movie ratings and such. I am also going to need some therapy, wine, and prayer to get through parenting my child(ren). I just can't believe this is thought of as ok!!!! And like you said I get there interested, but does that really make it appropriate in a teen magazine! My sons two and interested in the stove, but I don't let him play with it! We'll learn to handle mixing some ingredients first without flower everywhere before moving on to the stove, because it's not age appropriate for him!!!

  2. I think that both the article and the lack of societal outrage show how far standards have slid. I cannot believe this filth is being targeted to teenagers. They deserve better. Thank you for speaking up!