If you’re concerned about how reality TV is impacting your kids’ perceptions of women, good and bad news. Despite how The Real Housewives and the like portray all women as backstabbing gold diggers, it turns out many girls know that generating girl drama is a tactic by the show, according to a new survey by the Girl Scout Research Institute. But that doesn’t mean that these kids aren’t ingesting some of the most prominent themes in such programming.
The national survey found that 86% of girls are aware that reality shows “often pit girls against each other to make the shows more exciting.” However, about 78% of girls who regularly watched reality TV felt that “gossiping is a normal part of a relationship between girls” and that “girls often have to compete for a guy’s attention.”
And if that isn’t enough for you to cancel cable, consider also that girls who viewed reality TV said that they were happier when dating someone. Way to instill self-confidence, self-worth, and independence in the 17 and under set. It’s also worth nothing that while 48% of reality TV-watching girls held this sentiment, while only 28% who didn’t watch reality TV did.
Andrea Bastiani Archibald, Ph.D. Developmental Psychologist, made this statement on the findings:
“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 [Archibald]. “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 findings also reveal that more than a third of girls who consume this type of programming think that their value is based primarily on how they look. Yet, at the time, the genre does seem to inspire young girls in some capacity as a majority of avid viewers said that watching these types of shows “make me think I can achieve anything in life.”
But if that “anything” includes starring in a reality drama rooted in your own life, in which you hawk products and achieve fame through a series of cat fights, I would say that’s not much of a positive.