Adverse Effects of Reality TV on Girls
Most adults know that today's "reality" TV is hardly representative of the average person's reality, but teens are another story. According to researchers, young people, girls especially, are starting to accept the extreme behaviors exhibited on these shows as normal or even exciting.
A recent study by The Girl Scout Research Institute found that some teen and pre-teen reality TV watchers were even allowing these TV-like elements to invade relationships with their friends and families. Some of the girls studied were shown to be more tolerant of behaviors that are usually dramatized and advertised in shows like Big Brother, Real World, and the Real Housewives. This includes gossiping, fighting, and bullying.
One of the most popular of these shows, The Real Housewives series, exhibits all the qualities that entertain young girls, and also those that can easily influence them. Most women in the Real Housewives' casts are portrayed as wealthy, influential socialites. But their caddie behavior coupled with edited-in drama is also a big part of the show's popularity. Some parents are worried that their daughters will equate cut-throat gossip and profane Twitter battles with being successful and popular.
Girls in the survey who watched more of this type of TV also tended to have more confidence in themselves, their senses of humor, and their outgoing natures. While it's possible that they've picked up these positive qualities from shows that portray funny, outgoing women, the experts also warn that it's best to teach girls that bullying someone or talking behind their back is not a smart way to get ahead. Perhaps the best way to teach this is to turn off the TV.
Though the Housewives' antics make for fascinating television, it's important that viewers, with teens being no exception, realize that reality TV show producers are motivated by money and attention-grabbing drama. They are smart enough to fire cast members who don't stir the pot enough, or plot scenarios that will result in over-the-top arguments. When teen girls consider it that way, they might not think "reality" TV is so real and glamorous after all.