A national survey of 1,100 girls conducted by the Girl Scout Research Institute, Real to Me: Girls and Reality TV, found that tween and teen girls who regularly view reality TV accept and expect a higher level of drama, aggression, and bullying in their own lives, and measure their worth primarily by their physical appearance.
The authors of the report found that only 53% of 11- to 13-year-old and 8% of 14- to 17-year-old girls say that their parents regularly monitor what they watch.
Despite parental limitations and concerns, most girls watch reality TV, and almost half watch it regularly. Fully 41% of girls say their parents don’t approve of them watching reality TV but 71% do it anyway.
As the report points out, there are many positive lessons for girls to learn from these shows, but it requires parents to sit down with their tweens and teens look for teachable moments.
Among the findings:
- 68 percent of girls agree that reality shows "make me think I can achieve anything in life"
- 48 percent that they "help me realize there are people out there like me."
- Seventy-five percent of girls say that reality TV depicts people with different backgrounds and beliefs.
The Girl Scout Institute has put together a great reality TV handout for parents to help them get the conversation started. And it wouldn't hurt to have your son's involved in the conversation as well.
The big take away here is that parents need to be more involved and aware of the media--TV, web and social--that their kids (both girls and boys) are consuming on a daily basis. Our culture is saturated with media and it's up to parents, now more than ever, to be monitor message embeded in the content their kids are consuming.