Skateboarding itself is not a bad influence at all - in fact, it's a very good influence! Skateboarding keeps kids active, teaches them to set and achieve goals, challenges them - there are a lot of reasons that skateboarding by itself is a very good influence. Read The top 6 reasons to skateboard to learn more.
But, this isn't what most parents are concerned about. Some are worried about their kid getting hurt - and that's a good thing to consider! You will get beat up pretty badly as you learn to skate.
But most parents are concerned more about the punk, raw, angry side of skateboarding - and the drugs and alcohol abuse that can come along with it. It's true that skateboarding has always welcomed the rough crowd. Skateboarding has strong historical ties to the punk movement, and even further back to the innovative, aggressive young surf crowd.
But the truth is, that skateboarding is only as bad of an influence as you want it to be. If you are a parent reading this, then you likely already understand the way that bad company can corrupt your child. It's true of anything. There are plenty of good skateboarders out there.
For example, take a look at professional skateboarders. Professional skateboarding is full of good quality people, who would make excellent role models for you or your kids. Tony Hawk is a family man who donates loads of money to charity. Rodney Mullen is a warm, friendly, humble guy who has a masters degree. Bob Burnquist is using his position to try and help the environment, and overcame asthma to skateboard (read all about it in his interview). And the list goes on and on. Jereme Rogers looks like an angry young punk skater, with tattoos, a shaved head and a rough vocabulary. But, take a closer look at those tattoos - they are all about his faith, and when I talked to him after he won a stop of the Dew Tour, he wouldn't stop talking about how he felt that God gave him the skill to skate so that he could tell the world about God's love (read the interview). Most parents don't think of friendly, faithful, intelligent, environmentally conscious people as bad influences on their kids.
But there are skaters out there who might be bad influences on your kids. That is the truth. But the truth is, there are football players, cheerleaders, geeks, church kids and nice kids out there who could be bad influences on your kids, too. Skater punks tend to stand out because they try pretty hard to look mean. It's all part of the style, but some are actually mean kids with issues.
For parents, I believe the answer is in being involved with your kid. Simply spend time with your kid while he or she skates. This is the best idea I can share. You can try and skate with them if you want, but you can also just watch them and be impressed! That's all you need to do. A lot of work goes into skateboarding, and it feels good to have your family be impressed! And, if you've raised your kid well and taught them how to live, they shouldn't drift too far from it when they get older.
If you are a skater reading this, and you are looking for ways to not fall in with the wrong crowd through skateboarding, there are a couple of things you can do. A lot of youth organizations or churches have skateboarding clubs. Look around, call places like the YMCA, Campus Life, big churches or ask at your local skateboard shop. If there aren't any skate clubs around, then just be careful about the skater friends you hang with. At some point, you need to be responsible for making your own good choices - start now!