MTV show promotes teen sex, drug use, expert says

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A new controversial show debuting this week on MTV is raising eyebrows by depicting teenage lives filled with recreational drugs, partying and sex.

"What we are doing is getting more extreme to get more ratings," said Dr. Richard Levak, psychologist and personality expert.

According to Parents Television Council, the program, called "Skins," is considered "the most dangerous television show for children."

Dr. Richard Levak said edgy reality shows about teenagers are detrimental for young viewers because they normalize bad behavior.

"As teens are flooded with hormones, their brain and judgment hasn't fully developed, so they are notoriously impulsive and notoriously show poor judgment," said Levak.

Levak said watching others can be a powerful form of learning. He said teens are more likely to model after characters on TV.

"I'm pretty sure other kids will be influenced," said 16-year-old Michael Gillette.

Ninth grader Briana Sanchez said she doesn't think most young people will be heavily influenced by a TV show. She said teens already engage in sex, drugs and partying in high school. She said peers influence her friends more than what they see on television.

"They want to fit in with the crowd and do what others are doing," said Sanchez.

But Levak said it's better to limit a teenager's exposure to these types of shows. If they are watching, it's best to talk about the show and hopefully they'll learn to make better decisions.

"Perhaps asking them questions such as, what do you think the consequences of that negative behavior are or their feelings of the dangerous side effects of what they're doing," said Levak.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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