Monday, November 24, 2008

Dr. Phil's demographic includes kids?

Every Monday night I take my ten-year-old to basketball practice and I watch drill after drill, bored out of my mind. Last week, a boy plunked down next to me on the bench and leaned his head back against the wall. He wasn't feeling good. I don't know this kid (my son only recently joined this team) so I wouldn't think he'd want to talk to me, let alone initiate a conversation, but he did, and it not only caught me off guard, it made me realize how much kids are exposed to today.

After a few minutes, he said, "You ever watch Dr. Phil?"

"Dr. Phil?"

"Yeah. He's on at four every day."

"No," I said. "I don't usually have TV on at four."

"You should," he insisted, leaning forward. "The guy's amazing!"

I must've given him a skeptical look because he carried on, as enthusiastic as a minister preaching to his congregation. "He, like, talks to people who are all messed up but don't know how badly they're messed up and then he gives them advice and tells them how to fix their marriages or get their families talking to them again or how to stop gambling and get a job so they can get their kids back. Things like that."

"Do you watch it a lot?" I asked.

"Every day," he confirmed.

"You must really like it."

"I do," he said, nodding. "It makes me feel better watching people with a lot of problems in their life, you know? Cause then I see I'm not the only one."

I thought about that all the way home. How watching Dr. Phil seemed to make him feel better about himself, and yet how sad it was that a ten-year-old would habitually make Dr. Phil part of every afternoon vs. climbing a tree or building a fort or laughing along with a more age-appropriate show like Sponge Bob.

28 comments:

Angie Ledbetter said...

Sad for the kid, but glad he at least has some avenue for feeling better about his life. :(

Wendy Roberts said...

Even I would pick Sponge Bob over Dr. Phil. Listening to other people's problems is just depressing after a while. Poor kid probably thinks everyone on the earth is messed up!

Melissa Marsh said...

Yet another great reason for me not to have t.v. My daughter can only watch DVDs. It has eliminated a lot of the "I wants!" and the "I'm bored!" behaviors.

Travis Erwin said...

The mere sound of Dr. Phil's voice makes me want to hurl, but I find it fascinating that a 10yo boy would be that enamored. Makes me wonder what has that kid needing that kind of show.

Victoria said...

That's just sad.
No other word for it.

Maybe his parents are at work or something but I'd be making sure my 10 yr old wasn't watching Dr. Phil.

Katie Alender said...

When I was 10, all I wanted to watch was "The Price is Right". But I can see how Dr. Phil's no-nonsense way of pointing out what should be obvious could appeal to a kid.

It is a little sad, but there are a few good things to be picked up from the good old doctor. (Although I know not everybody feels that way.)

wordman17 said...

The last Dr. Phil show I glimpsed (while channel surfing) was about kids who'd been sexually abused.
No kid should be watching that kinda shit!

Nadine said...

Dr. Phil has his place and I think he has had some good shows. But I do not think his demographic should inc/kids unless a parent is sitting with them and it's applicable to their world and what they're going thru.

ORION said...

Dr. Phil...hmmmm...It shows how overly sophisticated
kids are now.
When I was 10 I didn't even KNOW anyone had problems except for me.
I wonder if that was a good thing or a bad thing...

Ramona said...

Dr. Phil makes me nuts.
I used to like his shows but they seem to have taken on a whole new slant that should be aired late at night, not when kids are watching!

Kim Stagliano said...

Wow - and it looks like he used it as an entre to gain your confidence too, maybe tell you he has problems without actually saying so. Keep an eye on the little guy. He might need a hand.

Of course, at 10 I was watching General Hospital with my Grandmother at 3pm. I remember when she was angry because the Watergate scandal took it off the air!

Terri Tiffany said...

That is sad--but how great is it that he talks about things like that!!

ChrisEldin said...

Wow. I'm very sad for this boy. And reaching out so openly to a stranger....he sounds so lonely.
I wonder if you'll see him again.

ChrisEldin said...

I just read through the comments. I agree with Kim. I hope you can find a way to talk to him again, if you see him again.

Dawn Anon said...

aw... he sounds like he's testing the waters for someone to talk to.

The good thing about Dr. Phil (and shows like his) is that kids are learning that they can ask for help and/or not keep secrets. Thank goodness for that. And i'd bet my paycheck (you got 50 cents?) he's watching shows with much worse content than that.

but how shocking for us when they (the kids) tell us!

kyla-dale said...

Someone needs to disconnect that kid's television and play a board game with him.

Adam said...

I'm wondering where the kids parents are.

Jess Riley said...

Your last sentence says it all...that kid will probably grow up to write an interesting memoir.

Dal Jeanis said...

That may have been a request for help, so you might want to pay close attention.

If his problem isn't anything specific, you can point him in the direction of Tony Robbins. Anthony Robbins tapes are available on ebay for $20-40, and can teach him how to deal with issues in a positive way, under his own control.

It will also give him some tools to see exactly what Dr Phil is doing right and wrong.

WendyCinNYC said...

You should have told him about Jerry Springer. Then he'd *really* feel better about his life.

I'm kidding.

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