New Girl Scouts Research Exposes the Impact of Reality TV on Girls

From the Girl Scout Blog (excerpt):

As reality TV has become staple entertainment for young people and adults alike, tween and teen girls who regularly view reality TV accept and expect a higher level of drama, aggression, and bullying in their own lives, and measure their worth primarily by their physical appearance, according to Real to Me: Girls and Reality TV [PDF], a national survey released today by the Girl Scout Research Institute.

The study found that the vast majority of girls think reality shows “often pit girls against each other to make the shows more exciting” (86 percent). When comparing the propensity for relational aggression between viewers and non-viewers of reality TV, 78 percent vs. 54 percent state that “gossiping is a normal part of a relationship between girls.”
Regarding romantic relationships, reality TV viewers are more likely than non-viewers to say “girls often have to compete for a guy’s attention” (74 percent vs. 63 percent), and are happier when they are dating someone or have a boyfriend/significant other (49 percent vs. 28 percent).

“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. Our national leadership program equips girls with the skills to decipher media fact from fiction and make healthy decisions for their own lives-separate from their sources of entertainment.”

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