With reality TV becoming more and more popular, girls are turning to these shows for entertainment value and life lessons. According to a national survey by the Girl Scout Research Institute, tween and teen girls are taking mental notes on "acceptable" physical appearances as well as expecting and accepting a higher level of drama, aggression and bullying in their own lives.
"Girls today are bombarded with media -- reality TV and otherwise -- that more frequently portrays girls and women in competition with one another rather than in support or collaboration. This perpetuates a 'mean-girl' stereotype and normalizes this behavior among girls," states Andrea Bastiani Archibald, Ph.D., Developmental Psychologist with Girl Scouts of the USA.
"We don't want girls to avoid reality TV, but want them, along with their parents, to know what they are getting into when they watch it."
The national study included tween and teen girls based on viewers and non-viewers of reality TV. Following are some of the findings:
Even though the findings show that tween and teen girls who regularly watch reality TV are more interested in their appearance, believe that gossip is simply a way of life, think competing for attention is normal and believe that bullying is a way to make a TV show more interesting, the study also revealed that these girls were more self-assured than the non-viewers.
The majority of the girls that watch reality TV consider themselves mature, smart, funny and outgoing, and a good influence.
These girls also towered over the non-viewers when asked if they aspire to leadership positions (46 percent vs. 27 percent) and believe they are already leaders amongst their peers (75 percent vs. 63 percent).
75 percent of the girls who view reality TV also view themselves as role models, while only 61 percent on the non-viewers said the same.
There is an upside to tween and teen girls watching reality TV, according to the study. 75 percent of all girls believe that diversity -- in the form of showing different backgrounds and beliefs -- is one of the positive life lessons they take from reality TV. The girls also noted that they obtain positive lessons from reality TV:
"We also want to emphasize the many positive benefits to reality TV, including its role as a learning and motivational tool," states Kimberlee Salmond, Senior Researcher with the Girl Scout Research Institute. "For example, we know that many girls receive inspiration and comfort from reality TV and that 62 percent of girls say that these types of shows have raised their awareness of social issues and causes."
Do you see the positives in reality TV for tweens and teens? Or do you feel reality TV is a bad influence?
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