Reality Television and how it can influence the behavior of youth and teens There is no doubt that when it comes to American youth television is one of the biggest influences by far. Many parents would love to say that their child does not watch that much TV but in reality they are spending a lot of time watching television or using media in some way. “The study by the Kaiser Family foundation shows that children ages 2-8 spend an average of 5 ½ hours a day “consuming media” kids 8 and older spend even more time in front of the tube nearly 6 ¾ hours a day” (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2005 ). Astonishingly, more time is being spent with media then doing homework, studying or even spending time with family. A child’s retention of what they watch depends on the child’s attention span, how they would process the information and of course their own e experience however limited this may be. Reality television can affect the attitudes and behaviors of children all over the U.S. through its stereotyping, violence and cultivating false perception of reality. This differs from family to family and depends on the values instilled in the child.
While media manipulates the minds of youth and teens, the value portrayed on reality television by reinforcing negative stereotypes and idealizes body image to be accepted as the norm. Stereotypes are unavoidable in media especially in reality programming. In my opinion the stereotypes depicted in media can influence the way youth see people in real life. Basing their opinion on what they have viewed on television. Often time’s television tends to stereotype genders and racial groups in a negative way. For example by watching the shows “Jersey Shore” and “Jerseylicious” you would think that young Italian people are only interested in partying, excessive drinking, promiscuity, name brand fashions and working out. That’s not the best image to enact to young people. With all the media used by youth in America is there any wonder why children stereotype what they don’t know? Adolescent females are easily swayed when it comes to messages about body image. A show such as “America’s Next Top Model” demonstrates that in order to be a model a person must be slender. “Recent research indicates that there is a marked link between TV and watching, and negative body and eating disorders” (British Journal of Psychiatry) Young people are always concerned with what their peers will say. I went around my neighborhood and asked a few teens some questions about body image and the media. I ran into a group of five girls and asked them do they feel that body image is important and if so how important is it. After a few moments one of the girls named Kayla who was 15years old said yes with a smirk. My follow up question was “Why is it so important?” she answered without a moment of pause “Because when you see someone who is overweight you automatically think they don’t care about themselves, they have bad BO and I don’t want people to think that about Me.” This conversation went on for almost an hour as she informed of her workout routine. Later, that day I saw some young males at the skate park and asked them the same questions as the girls the answers were the total opposite. A young man named Martin who was14 was the only one willing to answer my questions. He said he didn’t think it mattered about his body image or his friends. He later stated he thought it was dumb but when I asked him if he would ever date a girl that was overweight a little ashamed he replied that he wouldn’t. It is no secret that boys and girls are different but prior to this research I thought that all teenagers had basically the same outlook on how they view their bodies. Unfortunately the shows that children and young people are exposed to are not in a realistic light. Children see that the actors and actresses have perfect bodies, hair, and skin and clothing this is not realistic but the need to be perfect remains...
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