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New Girl Scouts Research Exposes the Impact of Reality TV on Girls

As reality TV has become staple entertainment for young people and adults alike, 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, according to Real to Me: Girls and Reality TV, a national survey released today by the Girl Scout Research Institute.

 The study found that the vast majority of girls think reality shows “often pit girls against each other to make the shows more exciting” (86 percent). When comparing the propensity for relational aggression between viewers and non-viewers of reality TV, 78 percent vs. 54 percent state that “gossiping is a normal part of a relationship between girls.”

 Regarding romantic relationships, reality TV viewers are more likely than non-viewers to say “girls often have to compete for a guy’s attention” (74 percent vs. 63 percent), and are happier when they are dating someone or have a boyfriend/significant other (49 percent vs. 28 percent).

 “Girls today are bombarded with media – reality TV and otherwise – that more frequently portrays girls and women in competition with one another rather than in support or collaboration.  This perpetuates a ‘mean-girl’ stereotype and normalizes this behavior among girls,” states Andrea Bastiani Archibald, Ph.D. Developmental Psychologist, Girl Scouts of the USA. “We don’t want girls to avoid reality TV, but want them, along with their parents, to know what they are getting into when they watch it.  Our national leadership program equips girls with the skills to decipher media fact from fiction and make healthy decisions for their own lives-separate from their sources of entertainment.”

 Girls who view reality TV regularly are also more focused on the value of physical appearance. 72 percent say they spend a lot of time on their appearance vs. 42 percent of non-viewers, while more than a third (38 percent) think that a girl’s value is based on how she looks.

 At the same time, girls surveyed who regularly view reality TV are more self-assured than non-viewers when it comes to an overwhelming majority of personal characteristics, with the majority considering themselves mature, a good influence, smart, funny, and outgoing. They are more likely than non-viewers to both aspire to leadership (46 percent vs. 27 percent) and to think they are currently seen as a leader (75 percent vs. 63 percent). In addition, they are more likely to see themselves as role models for other girls (75 percent vs. 61 percent).

 The study revealed that reality TV has many upsides as well. 68 percent of girls agree that reality shows “make me think I can achieve anything in life” and 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.

 “We also want to emphasize the many positive benefits to reality TV, including its role as a learning and motivational tool,” states Kimberlee Salmond, Senior Researcher, Girl Scout Research Institute. “For example, we know that many girls receive inspiration and comfort from reality TV and that 62 percent of girls say that these types of shows have raised their awareness of social issues and causes.”

 Since its founding in 2000, the Girl Scout Research Institute has become an internationally recognized center for research and public policy information on the development and well-being of girls.  Not just Girl Scouts, but all girls.

About Girl Scouts

 Founded in 1912, Girl Scouts of the USA is the preeminent leadership development organization for girls with 3.2 million girl and adult members worldwide. Girl Scouts is the leading authority on girls’ healthy development, and builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. The organization serves girls from every corner of the United States and its territories. Girl Scouts of the USA also serves American girls and their classmates attending American or international schools overseas in 90 countries. For more information on how to join, volunteer, reconnect, or donate to Girl Scouts, call (800) GSUSA 4 U or visit www.girlscouts.org

Contact

Joshua Ackley

Girl Scouts of the USA

(212) 852-8038

jackley@girlscouts.org

SheVille Team

We are a one-of-a-kind magazine that provides local, regional, national and international information about women’s lives and education, performing and visual arts and writing, the environment, green living and sustainability and regional Western North Carolina business, people and events. “Villages preserve culture: dress, food and dance are a few examples. As villages grow in population and turn into towns, local cafes make way for large American chains. Handmade leather sandals are discarded for a pair of Western sneakers. Due to its small size, a village fosters a tight-knit sense of community. Justpeace.org explains the meaning of the African proverb, “It takes a village,” by stating that a sense of community is critical to maintaining a healthy society. Village members hold a wealth of information regarding their heritage: they know about the ancient traditions, methods of production and the resources of the land. When villages become dispersed or exterminated in times of war, this anthropological knowledge disappears. Large cities are not as conducive to growing and producing foods such as fruits and vegetables. Villages, on the other hand, usually have ample amounts of land and other resources necessary for growing conditions.” The Importance of Villages by Catherine Capozzi Our Mission SheVille.org provides readers with information important to women’s lives and well-being. We focus primarily on the areas of education & health, business & finance, the arts & the environment. We are particularly interested in local & regional resources, organizations & events.
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