The Girl Scouts, that same group that brings you Thin Mints, Do-Si-Dos, and Tagalongs, also has The Girl Scouts Research Institute.
The institute has published the results of research that shows how reality television shows impact tween and teenage girls.
The research shows that girls who view reality show expect more drama, bullying and aggression in their lives. They also measure their self-worth by their physical appearance.
Although these smart cookies get that these shows pit girls against one another to make the shows interesting, these same girls often believe that gossiping is a natural part of life; that these girls believe that they have to compete for a guy’s attention and they’re happier when they have a boyfriend.
It’s just not reality shows that impacts these girl’s lives, but messages that are sent through the media that teach girls they have to be in competition with one another instead of building a support system. It’s through these messages that the mean-girl syndrome or relational aggression is born and nurtured.
There’s also a preference to not only measure their own self-worth through their appearance, but to judge other people’s appearance based on their own skewered view of what someone should look like. The importance of looks and beauty also increases the odds of eating disorders, low self-esteem and needing to alter their appearance through plastic surgery.
It’s important for parents not to let shows like Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Teen Mom, any of the Real Housewives shows, or Jersey Shore do their jobs of raising their daughters for them.
Regardless as to how technologically advanced our society has become, parents still need to monitor who or what is influencing their child.
It’s important to sit with your child and watch what they’re watching. Ask them questions about the show, the characters and what they think about the storyline.
If you feel the show is inappropriate, let your child know that you don’t want them watching the show and why.
The impact of reality shows will have a lasting effect on your child and how they view interpersonal relationships well into adulthood, but it will also be the deciding factor whether they’re going to be a victim of bullying or a bully themselves. One of the lessons a teen can get from watching these shows, unmonitored, is how to be a bully.
To read the results of the research, in its entirety, please go to: http://www.girlscouts.org/research/pdf/real_to_me_factsheet.pdf