True crime. This popular genre of content about real-life crimes and how they were solved is incredibly lucrative, so it’s likely we’ll see even more true crime podcasts, movies, and series continue to emerge. But is that a good thing? The jury’s still out. Just ask this Redditor, who is fighting with her ex over whether their teen son should be allowed to watch true crime content at his dad’s house.
Writing in the infamous /AmITheAsshole Subreddit, user @OverbearingEx gave some context: Her son (14) is obsessed with true crime videos. “He watches a lot of true crime content, especially on YouTube,” she wrote. “He often has it playing in the background when he is doing chores, so I have heard many of the videos. The content is intense, but it’s very academic for the most part.”
AITA for letting my son watch true crime content?
by u/OverbearingEx in AmItheAsshole
Her son has also made it abundantly clear why he enjoys this content: He’s very interested in America’s legal system. In fact, he said he “wants to pursue a criminal justice degree when he goes to college.” So, his interest itself is fairly academic, too.
Enter the Original Poster’s ex, who forbade their son from watching true crime videos at his house, “even with headphones on.” Originally, OP assumed this was because her ex’s other children are much younger than their 14-year-old, which makes sense to her. “Of course they shouldn’t be exposed to such things,” she wrote.
OP’s ex-husband forbade her son from watching true crime videos at his house, and here’s why.
However, she recently learned her ex’s real motivation for his decision: “My ex said that kind of content causes behavioral problems. I asked what kind of behavioral problems he has observed. He said our son has been defiant and argumentative. I said that’s just being 14, and I’m not having many problems in those areas at my house, so maybe his parenting is the issue, not mine.”
Although OP’s wording was harsh, her perspective tracks: Teens are notoriously moody and combative, and there’s a chance her ex wasn’t fully prepared to deal with that.
But her ex’s concerns have merit, too.
Although there isn’t a lot of research into how viewing true crime videos affects teens’ behavior, there is some indication that this content can have negative mental health impacts. According to Cleveland Clinic, binging true crime videos can create a heightened sense of unsafety, hypervigilance, and anxiety.
TL;DR: While it’s unlikely that OP’s son will start exhibiting dangerous or criminal behavior as a result of his true crime obsession, this content could have some unwanted psychological effects.
But OP supports his viewing preferences.
Equally important, though, is that OP’s son isn’t exhibiting any of these negative mental health outcomes from watching true crime content. As such, she believes he should be allowed to continue doing so.
“[My ex] said he’s not going to argue with me and that I need to ban true crime [in my home]. I said I agree on not arguing, but the answer is no. I’m not going to ban it,” OP wrote. “He said I’m being a stubborn ass and not prioritizing what is best for our son. Is that true?”
By and large, AITA Redditors in the comments sided with OP. Many highlighted her son’s clear purpose for viewing this content: his genuine interest in a career related to criminal justice.
“I started watching true crime at 12 and reading forensic textbooks as well. I ended up getting a degree in forensic science with certifications in death investigation,” one commenter wrote. “If he’s interested in learning and pursuing, please continue to encourage him!”
“This sounds like a power trip for your ex more than about being concerned for your son. If he was truly concerned he would have laid out a better argument,” another commenter opined. “I will say as long as you are monitoring and discussing the crime shows with your son, then NTA.“
AITA Redditors in the comments advised OP to support her son — and monitor what he’s watching.
And that’s the other thing: OP is paying attention to the content her son is consuming. Some Redditors had thoughts about which videos or podcasts were too graphic for a 14 year old, but overall, they were in support of her backing his interests — while modeling mindful media consumption, of course.
“Make sure he’s watching [age-appropriate] shows, and not something he’s not yet equipped to deal with. You have to be active in this interest just like you would soccer or anything else,” that same commenter opined.
“I say this as someone who loves true crime: There is a lot of unethical behavior [in the genre],” someone else noted. “People who will show gory crime scenes for shock value, often against the express wishes of the family. People who will have the family on for interviews and purposely upset them to get clips crying. People who spread false information as fact or accuse people of crime and stalk and harass them. If your son is listening to this genre, he has to be engaged with people talking about the ethics of it.”
“There might be a conversation to be had about the level of gore or violence in the shows, but that’s true of most TV nowadays,” another Redditor wrote.
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