The Negative Influence of Reality TV on Teenage Girls

Many of us may have conversed around the water cooler about the provocative behavior that is displayed on some reality TV shows. It’s like junk food: we love it and we know it’s bad for us, but we—and our children—watch anyway. You might say that it’s a parent’s duty to steer a child in the right direction; however, with loads of technology available at our fingertips on a variety of devices, it can be next to impossible to shield a child from junk TV. Reality TV is popular entertainment that may be having an impact on teenage girls, making it seem that the impertinent verbal exchanges and sometimes violent confrontations displayed heavily on reality TV shows such as Basketball Wives and Real Housewives of Atlanta are normal and desirable forms of behavior.

A research report commissioned by The Newspaper Association of America Foundation, Fitting into Their Lives: A Survey of Three Studies About Youth Media Usage by Vivian Vahlberg, found that “young people spend about as much time consuming media everyday (7 hours and 39 minutes) as their parents spend working.” Also, “if you factor in the additional media usage consumed in multi-tasking, young people pack 10 ¾ hours’ worth of media content into every day.” Many studies over the years have documented that some of our opinions are formed by what we consume through the media. Reflecting on over 10 hours of daily media consumption, it is reasonable to wonder how teenage girl’s behavior and perception – of society and of themselves – are being influenced by the portrayals of women on TV.

Jennifer Pozner, the director of Women in Media & News in New York City and the author of Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV, shared her perspective on reality TV in an online interview with Anne Kingston of Maclean’s, a Canadian weekly magazine. Pozner emphasized how reality TV shows are all scripted with “Frankenbites,” which help exaggerate and distort a character’s true motives or intent. For example, she notes that formerReal Housewives of Atlanta cast member Deshawn Snow was kicked off the show after the first season because she did not fit into the producers’ desired depiction of black women. Instead of highlighting the positive aspects of Snow as a dedicated student, an advocate for women of color, and an avowed Christian, the producers instead wanted to focus on negative imagery of black women.

The internet has become another host to negative depictions, through the posting of videos showing violent real-life confrontations such as the recent physical altercation between two teenage age girls in Ohio over a Twitter dispute that was videotaped and posted online—with over two million viewers. While there may be at best a tenuous connection to the Ohio incident, there is little doubt that its presence online is aimed at audiences who have been conditioned through media, including reality TV, to accept as normal, even heroic, behavior we would once criticize. It’s time to take a step back and reassess our TV standards and take a serious look at the psychological and behavioral impact television, particularly reality TV, has on today’s young women and girls—and vow to do something about it.

 

 

The Negative Influence of Reality TV on Teenage Girls

Many of us may have conversed around the water cooler about the provocative behavior that is displayed on some reality TV shows. It’s like junk food: we love it and we know it’s bad for us, but we—and our children—watch anyway. You might say that it’s a parent’s duty to steer a child in the right direction; however, with loads of technology available at our fingertips on a variety of devices, it can be next to impossible to shield a child from junk TV. Reality TV is popular entertainment that may be having an impact on teenage girls, making it seem that the impertinent verbal exchanges and sometimes violent confrontations displayed heavily on reality TV shows such as Basketball Wives and Real Housewives of Atlanta are normal and desirable forms of behavior.

A research report commissioned by The Newspaper Association of America Foundation, Fitting into Their Lives: A Survey of Three Studies About Youth Media Usage by Vivian Vahlberg, found that “young people spend about as much time consuming media everyday (7 hours and 39 minutes) as their parents spend working.” Also, “if you factor in the additional media usage consumed in multi-tasking, young people pack 10 ¾ hours’ worth of media content into every day.” Many studies over the years have documented that some of our opinions are formed by what we consume through the media. Reflecting on over 10 hours of daily media consumption, it is reasonable to wonder how teenage girl’s behavior and perception – of society and of themselves – are being influenced by the portrayals of women on TV.

Jennifer Pozner, the director of Women in Media & News in New York City and the author of Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV, shared her perspective on reality TV in an online interview with Anne Kingston of Maclean’s, a Canadian weekly magazine. Pozner emphasized how reality TV shows are all scripted with “Frankenbites,” which help exaggerate and distort a character’s true motives or intent. For example, she notes that formerReal Housewives of Atlanta cast member Deshawn Snow was kicked off the show after the first season because she did not fit into the producers’ desired depiction of black women. Instead of highlighting the positive aspects of Snow as a dedicated student, an advocate for women of color, and an avowed Christian, the producers instead wanted to focus on negative imagery of black women.

The internet has become another host to negative depictions, through the posting of videos showing violent real-life confrontations such as the recent physical altercation between two teenage age girls in Ohio over a Twitter dispute that was videotaped and posted online—with over two million viewers. While there may be at best a tenuous connection to the Ohio incident, there is little doubt that its presence online is aimed at audiences who have been conditioned through media, including reality TV, to accept as normal, even heroic, behavior we would once criticize. It’s time to take a step back and reassess our TV standards and take a serious look at the psychological and behavioral impact television, particularly reality TV, has on today’s young women and girls—and vow to do something about it.

 

 

I Hate Unity and Manners Lectures, but...

...I have never done one before, so here is mine:

I just had my ability to read hidden comments reinstated.  I suppose I had received too many troll ratings in the past but my detention time expired.  May I just make a few suggestions?

1) Stop the fury and flury of troll and hide ratings.  We are all adults, or mostly adults.  If somebody pisses you off, let em have it.  Tell them where to get off.  Troll and hide ratings are lazy and cowardly ways of showing displeasure.  They are also indicative of a netroots developed mob mentality.  Besides, censorship is rarely a good thing and, on the netroots, it often reaches the point of Stalinism.  Stalinism and group think are very, very, very, very, very bad for the long-term prospects of a party.  

2) Stop telling people that they don't have the right to call themselves Democrats.  None of us are qualified for that and no one should be.  Democrats don't demand that Republicans take an oath of allegiance to the Democratic party in order to vote for the Democratic candidate in the general election.  Telling Democrats that they must relinquish their Democratic preference and vote Republican from now on and join Red State if they choose not to vote for a Democratic nominee is no less foolish.

3) The primary is effectively over and there isn't much more than can be done about it.  That is democracy.  I didn't like the result of the 2004 GE but I had to live with it.  That's what a true American does.  Eventually, that cloud did turn out to have a silver lining.  At this point, screaming that Obama did this or Clinton did that or this or that wasn't fair doesn't make much sense.  What's done is done and we can't go back and replay the game.

That doesn't mean we have to all joing hands, hug, and sing the praises of each other.  We can still be critical of these choices.  We can still be critical of party direction and we can still be critical of those who oppose the perceived party direction.  But, just try to be a little more subdued in the way you express it.  We all just need to take a little extra effort to suppress rage, contempt, condescension, etc. and, in the process, argue in a way that is less hateful and ad hominem and more productive and compelling in the long run.

The bottom line: tolerance (at least a modicum of it).  We don't have to agree.  We don't have to stop arguing.  We don't even have to swear allegiance.  But, in the long run, we all have to tolerate our mutual existence.    

There's more...

He Lost His Only Daughter Due to ECA

Photobucket

Cross-posted at Pam's House Blend.

What is color-aroused emotion, ideation and behavior and how can you tell whether it is benign, mild, moderate or severe?  The following story, recounted to me this morning here in Bahia, Brazil, illustrates both what the illness is and how to determine its level of severity with specificity.

I have a friend named Bruna, a white-skinned Brazilian woman who is recounting the following story, about a close friend of hers, and I am translating and typing it up now, as she speaks.  Bruna says,

I have a friend named "Monica" whose skin is very white, and she has long blond hair and green eyes.  She and I prepared for the college entrance exams together, and her case stands out as the most drastic case of color-aroused hatred that I have ever witnessed:

Monica's mother and father were divorced and Monica lived with her father.  She was an only child.  When Monica was in high school, she was secretly in love with a classmate, "João", who was also in love with her.  However, Monica's father was very color-aroused. Monica's father constantly told Monica, "Never date a Black!  Never fall in love with a Black!" Her father was stern and severe.

Little did he know that his daughter already was secretly in love with a Black.  In the private school they attended, Monica looked secretly toward João, and he glanced back surreptitiously at her.  Whenever João was not in class, Monica copied and passed her notes to João, as well as informing him of the homework that was assigned.  João asked Monica to go out with him and she was dying of desire to do so.  

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The Mindless American: A Tragedy In The Making

...But even more shameful is the fact that there are people who seem not to care that such things are taking place in our country; a rather ignorant crowd of jingoes more comfortable choosing to sit back pretending that everything will be just fine, a people with apparently little regard for the facts. As a behavioral scientist, I am grieved at what appears to be a near pandemic of disinterest in what is happening to our country.

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Diaries

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