Survey: Reality TV Affects How Teen Girls View Themselves

Those who watch expect drama, aggression, bullying; care more about physical appearance
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Teen
and tween girls who regularly view reality television expect a higher
level of drama, aggression, and bullying in their own lives, while
measuring themselves primarily by their physical attractiveness.

That is according to a national survey by the Girl Scout Research Institute, "Real to Me: Girls and Reality TV."

The
survey found that the majority of girls (86%) think that females on
reality TV shows purposely pitted against each other to drive excitement.
When asked if "gossiping is a normal part of a relationship between
girls," of those who watch reality TV, 78% said yes, while only 54% of
girls who do not watch those shows, concurred.

When
asked about romantic relationships, a higher percentage (74-63%) of
those who view reality television said that "girls often have to compete
for a guy's attention."

"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, 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."

Girls
who view reality TV are also more concerned on their physical
appearance. 72% say they spend a lot of time on their appearance vs. 42%
of non-viewers, while more than a third (38%) agree that a girl's value
is based on how she looks.

"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, 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."

The
survey found some positive effects that reality television can have on
teen girls: 68% agree that such fare "make[s] me think I can achieve
anything in life" and 48% argue that it "help[s] me realize there are
people out there like me." 75% of girls say that reality TV depicts
people with different backgrounds and beliefs.

"We
also want to emphasize the many positive benefits to reality TV,
including its role as a learning and motivational tool," says Salmond. "For example, we know that many girls receive inspiration and comfort
from reality TV and that 62% of girls say that these types of shows have
raised their awareness of social issues and causes."

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