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Reality TV: Is there such a thing?

By It's My Life on October 18, 2011 12:28 PM | No TrackBacks

media.gifWhy do we watch reality TV? Is it because nothing is as dramatic and entertaining as real life? Does it reflect experiences we're actually having? Are we learning anything positive from it, or do we just like to spy on other people?

Reality TV has become more than just a trend in entertainment -- it's shaping up to be a whole extra genre that might be here to stay. Is that a good thing?

We were very interested to read the results of a recent survey from the Girl Scout Research Institute called "Real to Me: Girls and Reality TV," which picked the brains of tween and teen girls who regularly watch reality television shows, and those who don't watch them. Here's what they found out:

  • 86% of the girls think reality TV shows pit girls against one another in order to make things more "exciting".
  • Of the girls who watch reality TV shows, 78% said that "gossip is a normal part of a relationship between girls." Of the girls who don't watch reality TV, only 54% agreed with that statement.
  • Reality TV viewers are more likely than non-viewers to say "girls often have to compete for a guy's attention" (74% vs. 63%), and are happier when they're dating someone or have a boyfriend/significant other (49% vs. 28%).
  • Of the girls who watch reality TV, 74% said they spend a lot of time on their appearance, while only 42% of the girls who don't watch it said the same thing.
So does watching reality TV only have negative effects on us? Fortunately no -- there seem to be upsides too (besides the fun-to-watch part):

  • Most of the viewers describe themselves as "mature, a good influence, smart, funny, and outgoing."
  • They're more likely than girls who don't watch to aim for leadership in life (46% vs. 27%) and see themselves as role models for other girls (75% vs. 61%).
  • 68% of girls agree that reality shows "make me think I can achieve anything in life" and 48% agreed that they "help me realize there are people out there like me."
  • 75% of girls say that reality TV depicts people with different backgrounds and beliefs.
  • 62% of girls say that these types of shows have raised their awareness of social issues and causes.
What about you? Do you agree that reality TV shows offer tween viewers these positive and negative sides? Does the bad outweigh the good, or vice versa? Tell us what you think on our What's On Your Mind page, and we'd love to hear which reality TV shows, in your opinion, truly offer something of value to audiences.

In the end, we guess it's most important to remember that reality TV is not reality; if you watch it the way you might watch "fictional" television, it's easier to separate out the mixed messages. These shows might be created by other people, but what really matters is what you create out of them for yourself!

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