Growing up, one of my favourite programmes on TV was Grange Hill. For anyone under the age of 30, Grange Hill was a drama series based in a North London secondary school, covering hard-hitting story lines such as drug abuse, homelessness, teenage pregnancy and rape.
During my adolescent years, Grange Hill was the TV show of the moment; everyone was watching it. Whilst I could vaguely relate to the story lines, they were pretty far removed from my sheltered experiences – the very thing that made it so intriguing.
At the time I had a friend who wasn’t allowed to watch Grange Hill. What did she do? Come up to my house to watch it! Even in the days of no internet, only 3 channels to choose from and TV actually going off completely from 11pm on weekdays, we would find a way to watch the programmes that everyone else was watching, the ones that gave us a glimpse into a slightly more dangerous, risqué world.
I remember feeling thankful that my mum was pretty open-minded, that she didn’t assume by watching Grange Hill we would be tainted and immediately go out and copy the characters’ antics. She knew us well enough to know that we wouldn’t and that felt good.
ITV’s Love Island is the modern day equivalent of Grange Hill. Like it or not, it is the world that our teenagers are growing up in and whilst I understand that some people might not want it shoved in their faces every evening for 8 weeks, I have chosen to watch it with my teenagers.
Should a Christian watch Love Island?
I would be lying if I said I hadn’t thought more than twice about watching Love Island. A lot of it doesn’t sit right with me: promiscuity is rife, all body types are definitely not represented and the message about love being a throw-away commodity is not one I would recommend for anyone, let alone my children (for the record, even if I wasn’t a Christian I am certain I would feel the same way and many of you reading this probably do too).
But those things I don’t like? They are exactly the reasons why I am watching it.
I had to stifle a gasp the other night, when Dani whispered to Jack (the couple that has been together the longest): “Isn’t it funny how we already love each other but we’ve not even had sex yet”.
Off the back of that comment however, I was able to suggest that the fact they haven’t had sex, is exactly the reason why they do love each other – they are taking it slowly and giving their relationship a chance. When Wes dumped Laura, it opened up a conversation around the fact that having sex with someone means the break up will be so much more painful.
Once your children reach the upper teenage years (my girls are 16 and 18, I still wouldn’t recommend it for younger teens) you can’t tell them what they can and can’t watch. You can make suggestions, but they will watch what they want and most likely, the programmes that all their peers are watching. If you ban them, they will find a way – probably upstairs in their bedroom, using your wifi!
I read an article in the week, suggesting that Christians should boycott Love Island and whilst I don’t disagree with the author’s reasoning, it didn’t persuade me that I’m doing the wrong thing by watching it together. If you’re wondering what my husband thinks, he’s watching it too for the same reasons that I am; in fact we are both a bit hooked!
As a parent of teens, I think the best thing we can do is have an understanding of the world they are living in, not hiding away from it pretending that it’s not happening.
Christian or not, what’s your view of Love Island? Are you watching it with your teenagers?