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Rida Zahid
LN Jones
August 8, 2014
Impacts of Reality Television
on Younger Generations
Its not unusual that the younger generations today seem to be more uncivilized and ruder
than ever. On average a teenager watches around 28 hours of television per week being
exposed to things like sex, drugs, and vulgar language (Skeen). This exposure to reality
television has altered not only behavior patterns but also influenced teenagers to be both more
carless and reckless. Although the effects of reality television seem to be all negative there are
some positive impacts. Despite the fact that some may argue that reality television is harmless
entertainment it has many impacts on our culture both of which are good and bad for our
younger generations. I believe that reality television is impacting the younger generations
negatively, significantly more than it is positively.
According to the Oxford dictionary reality television is defined as television programs in
which real people are continuously filmed, designed to be entertaining rather than informative.
What most people often forget it that people will not act 100% themselves when surrounded by
microphones, lights, and several camera crewmembers. Also several hours of editing go behind
each and every episode showing the producers version of what occurred. Reality television is one
of the largest growing trends present today. Shows such as 16 and Pregnant, Teen Mom, Jersey
Shore, Project Runway, The Hills, etc. specifically target teenagers and younger audiences.
According to a study conducted by the Girl Scout Research Institute, Many think these
programs reflect reality, with 75% saying that competition shows and 50% saying that real-life
shows are mainly real and unscripted (Real to Me: Girls and Reality TV). This is an issue
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because teenagers feel it is then okay for them to act a certain way since others are being allowed
to do when in fact they are just acting.
The problem with reality television is that it puts negative behavior into a positive light.
Slowly yet surely, family values and morals are slipping away from the minds of the younger
generations. There was a time it was frowned upon if someone got pregnant at 16 but now you
get your own reality TV show and are paid to be followed around and create drama. Reality TV
is exposing todays younger generations to a different and non-realistic view of the world. The
division between fact and fantasy is blurred heavy exposure [to reality TV] affects peoples
realities in the real world, confirms Dr. Mina Tsay-Vogel, Assistant Professor of
Communications at Boston University, who has extensively research the topic (Wolf). Reality
television has also resulted in an increase in underage alcohol consumption. Shows like Jersey
Shore and Keeping Up With The Kardashians regularly show its stars going out partying and
drinking like its the new norm. Another thing reality television has encouraged is violence;
violence is shown on almost every show.
National rates in teen violence have had a significant increase along with the increase of
violence being shown on TV. (Causes of School Violence) Shows such as Basketball Wives and
Bad Girls Club display verbal exchanges and violent confrontations displaying it as normal and
acceptable behavior. Teenagers are encouraged to use violence as an outlet for anger and a way
to deal with problems. According to a survey from eMissourian conducted by April Molina,
Out of 1,100 11 to 17 year olds interviewed, the survey found that regular reality TV viewers
accept a higher level of drama, aggression and bullying in their lives (Molina). According to
psychologist Romeo Vitelli, Reality television viewers were more likely to develop
psychosocial problems including shyness, loneliness, and depression (Vitelli). Teenagers are
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nave and easily influenced by these well-known or famous celebrities. The teenagers idolize
these figures and want to imitate them and act like them. This leads to the teenagers view of
reality being altered by what they watch.
But not all reality television is impacting our younger generations negatively. Shows such
as Extreme Home Makeover, Catfish, Hoarders: Buried Alive, The Biggest Loser, and Shark
Tank promote positive life values and ethics. John Perritano, from Effects of Reality TV: The
Good says, Shows like Hoarders: Buried Alive increase public awareness about a serious
mental health issue. Shark Tank is another positive reality show; its purpose is not only to
entertain but to also inform. According to Colby Eis from Elite Daily, Shark Tank teaches
things like how to invest your money, grow a company, and think smarter (Eis). Unfortunately
there are not many positive reality shows thus the negative impacts over power the positive.
Some argue that reality TV is not bad to watch and is true and a part of learning to live life. But I
argue how is this true? Almost all reality shows are scripted and edited. Furthermore, teenagers
are not able to differentiate between what is real and what is fake. Although reality TV
diminishes stereotypes its also supports them, for example shows like The Real Housewives of
Atlanta, Love & Hip Hop, and Bad Girls Club all deal with Black women being disrespectful and
fighting with each other. They are seen as liars and cheaters and although it is entertaining it
supports a stereotype and it most necessarily not true.
In conclusion after much research my claim that reality television has more negative
repercussions then benefits is correct. To reverse the effects of reality television one should just
not tune in or producers should only produce positive reality television. The shows that are
geared towards younger viewers have potentially more devastating effects for society instead of
it being just harmless entertainment.
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Works Cited
"Definition of reality TV in English:." reality TV: definition of reality TV in Oxford dictionary
(American English) (US). Web. 5 Aug. 2014.
Eis, Colby. "Why Reality TV Is Like A Drug With Bad Side Effects." Elite Daily. Elite Daily, 27
Mar. 2013. Web. 5 Aug. 2014.
Molina, April. "Study: Reality TV Shows Can Affect Teen Behavior." The Missourian. KSAT, 3
May 2013. Web. 5 Aug. 2014.
"Real to Me: Girls and Reality TV.". Girl Scout Research Institute, n.d. Web. 5 Aug. 2014.
Skeen, Hope. "Reality TV's effect on teens." Reporter-Herald 1 Dec. 2011. Web. 5 Aug. 2014
Vitelli, Romeo. "Is There a "Snooki Effect?". Psychology Today, 28 Oct. 2013. Web. 5 Aug.
Wolf, Kimberly. "The Reality of Reality TV." Life with Teens 1 Oct. 2013. Web. 5 Aug. 2014.