Bestselling author Teresa Tomeo notes study showing that regular ‘Reality’ viewing promotes bad behavior among young pre-teen and teen girls
Maybe the genre should be called “Fantasy TV.” Without question, today’s crop of “reality” TV shows appear to be negatively impacting the behavior and perspectives of young girls who tune in regularly — according to a study released by The Girl Scout Research Institute.
“This recent Girl Scouts Study, ‘Real to Me: Girls and Reality TV,’ is yet another wake-up call for parents everywhere,” said Teresa Tomeo, bestselling author whose newest book is EXTREME MAKEOVER. “When it comes to media and young people, less is definitely more.”
The research firm TRU surveyed a national sample of 1,141 girls ages 11-17. Forty-seven percent identified themselves as regular viewers of reality programming; 30 percent said they watched sometimes; and 23 percent rarely or never watch a show in the genre.
“Reality shows promote bad behavior” is a unanimous finding of the study.
- More than 70% of regular viewers spend a lot of time on their appearance, and 38% think a girl’s value is based on how she looks (vs. 28% of non-viewers);
- Almost 30% of regular viewers would rather be recognized for their outer beauty than their inner beauty (vs. 18% of non-viewers);
- Almost 40% of regular viewers believe “you have to lie to get ahead” (vs. 24% of non-viewers).
“Adults, at least for the most part, are savvy enough to realize that ‘reality’ TV is anything but real life” Tomeo said. “The genre gains viewers by sensationalizing and dramatizing every day activities and providing a shock value.
“It’s different for impressionable children who can’t distinguish between fact and fiction,” she added. “This study shows that girls are particularly impressionable as those who watch Reality TV regularly readily see the antics often highlighted on these shows such as fighting, gossiping, and in general treating people badly, as perfectly normal and acceptable. This means parents and guardians should get serious about setting media guidelines for young people and sticking to them.”
Tomeo challenges women in EXTREME MAKEOVER to shed the messages and toxic images like those in reality programs, and instead embrace the truth about their human dignity.