Recently, I’ve had the experience of watching Netflix’s latest drama show, Cobra Kai. The show acts as a sequel to the Karate Kid movie series. It focuses on the two main characters, Daniel Larusso and Johnny Lawrence, and is a flash-forward to their new lives as adults. For those who may not have seen the movies or the show, Johnny and Daniel have a long history of being enemies since their time in high school. Daniel is the owner of his own car dealership and Johnny opens up his own Karate dojo. The show navigates how the two continue to cross paths against each other and how their rivalry begins to live on through their children. Members of Cobra Kai are taught to be aggressive and merciless. Their literal motto is, “Strike first, strike hard, no mercy.”
Throughout the series, there are quite a few moments where the kids break out into karate brawls and struggle for dominance over one another. For a show that’s only rated TV-14, some of the fight scenes are a bit too graphic. There’s one scene where a character is kicked off a balcony, breaks his spine, and ends up in a coma. Another disturbing scene is one where a character is forcibly pinned to the floor and has his arm broken. Even some of the language that the kids use is enough to make me question whether some of the media young children are exposed to today is truly age-appropriate. I know that if I were a parent, I wouldn’t feel too comfortable having my fourteen-year-old son or daughter watching a tv show that has children dropping the B-word and calling each other “P*ssy”.
I think Cobra Kai has the potential to be a very influential show for younger audiences but the scenes I just described could be conveying a more harmful message. As someone with two younger siblings, I’ve witnessed firsthand how easy it has become for children to be influenced negatively by the media they’re exposed to. Like any other preteen in this generation, my two younger siblings spend a lot of their time watching YouTube and playing video games such as Roblox or Minecraft. These games are considered to be kid-friendly and harmless, but there is still some violence that takes place such as shooting each other or killing zombies. I haven’t failed to notice the aggressive behaviors it can enable in children. It can cause them to become very excited and sometimes use violent language whether it’s because they’ve lost or are just really into the game.
Today, the percentage of bullying and physical violence occurring in schools is continuing to rise in the United States. A TV show like Cobra Kai could potentially influence children to possess more violent and aggressive behaviors. I’m not arguing that parents should take away video games or television completely from their children, but I do think we should be more aware of the kind of media our children are exposed to. After all, it’s been proven that too heavy of exposure to violent media can cause children to become desensitized. Supervising the kind of media your child consumes can ensure they’re making quality decisions and aren’t being overstimulated by violent media.