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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this show is an unrealistic introduction to dating for young tweens and teens. Feelings and emotions are detached from this prefabricated dating game show. Sexual language and lewd connotations are peppered throughout. Contestants often use their physical assets to promote themselves and win a second date. Both heterosexual and homosexual dating situations are presented.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
NEXT brings dating to a whole new level. A main contestant is set up on five dates, all of whom are sitting on a bus together, awaiting their turn. The moment the main contestant wants to switch dates, she/he says \"Next,\" and one date is exchanged for another. Every minute they are kept on the date is worth $1. The \"point\" of the show is for the dater to ask the datee out for a second engagement. The winning contestant can decide to take the money or go out on a second date. Those who are dismissed get to keep the money.
Is it any good?
Setting aside for a moment the money paid out for dating, the message of forced pseudo-dates sets the stage for competition among young people. For example, the contestants waiting their turn on the bus talk negatively to each other and almost always gossip about the latest member of the stagecoach to attempt to win a second date. The date often consists of outings that require minimal clothing, from mud baths and surfing, to back waxing and surf lessons. Those competing not to hear the dreaded "next" will discuss almost anything -- sexual experiences, their physical attributes, their competition back on the bus -- to display their commitment to the stay in the game.
With a confusing, albeit silly premise, Next sends a bad message to teens about dating. It makes it seem that looks and the ability to act sexy matter most, and that getting to know someone can be done in a matter of minutes. Dating can be a controversial issue in many households, and parents might be concerned about an MTV game show serving as their kids' introduction to the dating scene. The set-up of Next may force mature topics onto kids who may only be starting to scratch the surface -- still passing notes about the boy they like in math class. If you allow your teen to watch, we recommend you watch with them so you can help them decode all the confusing messages the show sends.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about their own rules and values around teen dating. Issues to discuss include: do you think this is an appropriate way to let someone know you are not interested in dating them? What are some alternative ways you can let someone down? Are these tactics something you might use to let a boy/girl know that you like/don't like them? Do you think the purpose of this show is to get a date or win cash?