No matter how awful reality TV might be, it can always be defended as cheap, harmless fun. At least, “cheap fun:” Deadline reports that a recent study conducted by the Girl Scout Research Institute found that teen girls who watch a lot of reality programming “accept and expect a higher level of drama, aggression, and bullying in their own lives, and measure their worth primarily by their physical appearance.” Hey parents, you know that PBS is free, right?
The researchers believe much of this is because reality TV “more frequently portrays girls and women in competition with one another rather than in support or collaboration.” Apparently, plotlines involving two or more women working to embarrass a former friend at a trunk show don’t count as “support or collaboration.” Some specifics from the study say that girls who watch reality TV are more likely to think “gossiping is a normal part of a relationship between girls,” “girls often have to compete for a guy’s attention,” and that happiness is dependent on having a boyfriend. Haven’t the researchers watched Keeping Up With the Kardashians? They’re married to basketball players and are so happy!
There are some positives, however. The study finds that girls who watch reality TV are more inclined to think of themselves as leaders or role models and that the programming raises “their awareness of social issues and causes.” That’s all fine and dandy until you realize that your daughter has set a series recording for Teen Mom on your DVR. Time to bring back the V-chip.