Impact of Reality Television on Society

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The Impact Reality Television Has On Our Youth
Misty Stouffer
ENG 122
Marnie Nollette
April 18, 2011

The Impact Reality Television Has On Our Youth
Television serves nearly 30 hours of entertainment to children 8 to 18, weekly. Reality television is a phenomenon that is sweeping the globe. These programs are widely viewed by kids, tweens, and teens. Many of these kids idolize reality stars and mimic their every move and their vocabulary. This alleged reality is negatively affecting the well-being of children world-wide. Kids tend to imitate what they observe on television and these programs typically support the worst attributes of behavior. (Ludwig 2003). We must remember these words spoken by Dr. Ted Baehr, “Whoever controls the media controls the culture.” While reality television can be positive, parents should monitor the programs watched by their children due to the negative affects these shows contribute to children’s overall health.

It is a known fact that television influences our lives and the lives of our children. Today, kids are watching more reality television and revering those they see. They are basing their lives, their wants, their desires on what they perceive as real on these programs. This influence is shown in lower self-esteem, poor level of respect displayed, and the ideals of happiness our youths possess. Research presented by Dr. Helen Street revealed that children who suffer from depression will believe beauty, wealth, and popularity leads to fulfillment. (Genesis Health, 2003). The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also shares concern that this exposure to reality media carries health risks to children. These risks include violent and aggressive behavior, sexuality issues, poor academic performance, low self-image, weight issues, and substance use and abuse. By continuing to allow our kids to be exposed to reality television, these issues will only increase. Reality television is being passed off to our youth as real-to-life scenarios. These shows make it appear that it is normal for people to act and to receive as they are depicted on television. Real life is nothing like these so called Reality shows.

Children’s learning through imitated behavior was proven in Albert Bandura’s “bobo” doll study. During this experiment, Bandura allowed children to watch one of two movies, then videoed their actions during playtime, after viewing one of the two movies. It was discovered that the children who were shown the video of violence acted out that aggression on the bobo doll. The other group of children whose movie displayed zero brutality did not act in a hostile way. Anyone who has ever been around or exposed to children can corroborate this finding. Children mimic what they see like, the infamous childhood game, simon says. Parents must wake up and see what they are allowing their children to digest. These actions and thoughts children are emulating will destroy their overall health. Selfishness, promiscuity, illicit drug use is what will become the outcome if kids continue to absorb reality television. What children will not gain from these programs are: self-respect, honor, responsibility, truth, morals and values; as those qualities are not instilled in the majority of reality programs.

Adults are becoming entangled in reality television, losing sight of what is real, so imagine what these shows are doing to our youth, who look up to these “stars”. Teenagers are associating instant gratification with happiness. They are seeking what they see on these reality programs. The titles of these well-known shows should make parents toes curl. Names like “How to look good, NAKED”, “America’s Top Model”, and “Make me a Supermodel.” The titles alone give the impression of self-image regarding acceptance and happiness. Then take the popular “16 and Pregnant” or “My Super Sweet 16”. Since when does 16 depict pregnancy and spoiled rotten? Teenagers...
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