The Impacts of Television on Teens and Their Futures

The Impacts of Television on Teens and Their Futures

Katie Wiklund

Throughout the 2000’s, there’s been an influx of Netflix shows that revolve around main characters who work in distinct workplaces. Shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, Criminal Minds, and How to Get Away With Murder all focus around different careers and the lives of those who work them. As these shows have gained popularity, it has led to an increase in interest for these careers, especially among teens, and it’s easy to understand why. These shows provide a glimpse into different occupations, as well as the potential benefits of them. They focus on highly rewarding aspects of these jobs, such as saving a life or catching a criminal. However, one question remains: is this new interest a good thing, or is television setting future generations up for failure? 

One obvious positive impact of the airing of the shows is the increase in awareness and interest in fields that are important to society as we know it. Many teens are confused about what they want to do with their lives, and don’t know where to begin looking for information on college majors and careers. These television shows provide a source of information that attracts the interest of many, regardless of how accurate the information provided is. This newfound information can set them off on a path of research, which may eventually lead to them discovering what they want to do for the rest of their life. Additionally, these shows have the power to convince individuals that they have what it takes to go into these more competitive and rigorous fields. Before watching a show like Grey’s Anatomy, a student may think they’re not smart enough to become a doctor, but afterwards, they might have new-found motivation to pursue the career. 

While it’s certainly a good thing for teens to have exposure to different job opportunities, these television shows do not necessarily provide an accurate portrayal of the demands of these jobs. To begin with, most of the careers highlighted throughout Netflix shows require years of rigorous training and schooling before one is able to achieve their desired position. Additionally, the real world equivalent of the jobs shown on TV is nothing like the portrayals. While a lot of excitement and drama occurs on these shows, in the real world, the jobs are nowhere near as exciting. In fact, according to Dr. Amanda Kirzner, “By portraying the residents’ lives as exciting, dramatic whirlwinds, the show makes real-world residency seem less difficult. I would not be surprised if medical students watching the show are shocked and disillusioned when they finally rotate through surgery and find out what the surgical world is really like. I certainly was surprised.” So while these shows provide an insight into these new worlds, it’s clearly not the most accurate. 

In my opinion, it’s never a bad thing to provide exposure to different career options for teens. However, it is important to research the reality of the careers portrayed. The shows are good for initial exposure and creating interest, but after that, the best thing to do would be to do some independent research on the careers you’re considering and see if they’re an actual good fit. Additionally, I believe that discovering a potential career through a TV show shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing if you’ve done your research and are confident that it’s something you seriously want to pursue. The phrase “Are you sure you want to do that, or have you just been watching too much (insert TV show here)?” is both annoying and condescending. The assumption that someone is too incompetent to think about pursuing a career without the influence of a TV show is just plain insulting, and shouldn’t be said. When it comes to your future, it’s important to make decisions based on both interest and research, and not to doubt yourself or your skills when talking about your goals with others.