Tip # 23 – Talk Reality about the Effects of Reality TV

Nov 08

Do your kids watch reality TV? If so, perhaps you should consider the effects of reality TV on their view of themselves and those around them. The recent Girls Scout Research Institute’s study of 1,100 girls found significant differences between reality show fans and non-fans. Besides the obvious concern that many of these series’ glorify vacuous women whose sole objective in life is to look prettier than that woman, the research on television list additional reasons why a parent should pay attention to their kids’ viewing habits of the boob tube (no anatomical pun intended).

All or most of the girls in the study (fans and non-fans) concluded that reality shows:

  • Promote bad behaviour. (100% of girls)
  • “Often pit girls against each other to make the shows more exciting.” (86% of girls)
  • “Make people think that fighting is a normal part of a romantic relationship.” (73% of girls)
  • “Make people think it’s okay to treat others badly.” (70% of girls)

Reality show aficionados are more likely than those who do not watch the shows to believe:

  • Gossiping is a normal part of a relationship between girls
  • It’s in girls’ nature to be catty and competitive with one another
  • It’s hard to trust other girls.
  • Girls often have to compete for a guy’s attention
  • They are happier when dating someone than not.

Surprisingly, however, these same Jersey Shore and Kardashian viewers are more self-assured than those who shun reality TV and are more likely to aspire to leadership, as well as currently see themselves as leaders.  The caveat is how they may be achieving their status of leadership since they are more likely to think “you have to lie to get what you want,” that “being mean earns you more respect than being nice,” and “you have to be mean to others to get what you want.”  One must ask: Are these the kinds of girls we want as leaders? Certainly gives pause for thought.

Scaling back on reality TV may be the ideal solution in a household where all things Kardashian rule, however, parents can also choose to join their kids at the screen. Point out the unrealistic aspects of these “reality” shows (how many hours and hired assistants does it take to make a Kardashian look fabulous?) When an explosive fight breaks out, explain that real friends do not gossip and say hurtful things to one another, but rather support each other through good times and bad. Eventually, your kids may see the light and realize their time spent watching mean girls on TV could be better spent elsewhere. Or maybe your rolling commentary will drive them to give up their guilty pleasure. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, either.

Photo by xposurephotos.com

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