Effects of Watching Too Much TV Reality Shows

A warning to adults to the adverse repercussions of young teenagers who are watching reality television. There has been research done that proves that watching some reality television shows can cause impressionable viewers to have more aggressive behavior and create false realities. When studying the negative effects of watching reality television on you and your children becomes a big concern because these shows can impact real life behavior, producers are misleading impressionable viewers by manipulating dramatic situations, and by using relatable emotions to keep viewers hooked .

From the beginning of mainstream reality television sum 20 years ago, these shows have been creating a negative effect on viewers when seeing certain reality show’s cast members promoting unfriendly and aggressive behaviors. Central Michigan University, psychologist Bryan Gibson stated, 'We knew from past research that folks who see relational aggression in media tend to become more aggressive'.

Gibson headed up a new research program to determine if viewing certain reality television shows with large amounts of foul, cruel, and exploitation behaviors, would cause the audience to become more aggressive. The new study had participants watch three different types of television programming: an aggressive surveillance show like Jersey Shores or Real House Wives, an uplifting surveillance show like Big World Little People, and a fictional crime drama show like CSI. After viewing an episode the participants were tasked to activate a button as quickly as possible, thinking they were competing against someone in another room and whoever won would get to blast the opposite person with a loud, high pitched sound. The research concluded that the participants that viewed Jersey Shores or The Real House Wives shows activated the high pitched sound longer and louder than the participants who watched the more violent CSI. The study proved that a number of these reality shows can have a negative effect on viewers.

An anonymous reality show insider is pulling back the curtain on how real is reality television? Impressionable fans, especially teenagers who view these shows say they know that a large amount of the show is not real, however, they will discuss all of the drama that goes on in the episode with their friends like it is part of their lives. The producers also manipulate situations to make the show more dramatic, which relates to higher ratings. Getting a higher rating is job number one for producers, who do not care who they hurt to produce some horrendous drama, like flipping tables at a restaurant or getting into a fight in public. You would think that these cast members would do something about the abuse and mischaracterization of themselves, but because they sign their rights away to having a non-public life, and where the producers get to create a more compelling story line between couples, whether it is a real friendship or a showmance. This is what they sign up for in hopes of being rich and famous, but sometimes you feel sorry for them when they get overwhelmed by pressures put on them by the producers.

Impressionable viewers might assume that these reality stars always look great all of the time, but the insider says “And the way the ‘stars’ look is all heavily doctored, too. If they are filming a dinner scene, for instance, there'll be several breaks for people to redo their hair and reapply their lipstick'. Whether or not it's a frankenbite (industry term for editing conversations), showmance (a romance in a reality show), or frenemy (a character in a reality TV-fueled feud), all different tricks that producers use to influence viewers into thinking they're watching a true life show.

With the popularity of reality television, it has brought up concerns of serious complaints that reality shows rely on the viewer’s amusement of the humiliation and degradation of the cast members. A study within the Journal of Media Psychology by Michal Hershman Shitrit and Jonathan Cohen from the University of Haifa in Israel wanted to test that theory. The study interviewed 183 participants about 12 different reality shows then asked questions, like how often do they watch, to what extent they would go to be on a show, how happy they would be if a family member was on a show, and the big question, how much would you reveal to the audience about your deepest secrets and thoughts. The study concluded that this tricky and innovative test of the real reasons behind the enjoyment of watching reality shows allowed them to discover that humiliation is not the central motivation, which must rather be empathy.

Steven Riess came up with an assessment of the speculation of the 16 basic desires called the Riess Profile. Riess applied the speculation to reality television shows, he suggests that an individual’s value more highly to watch those shows that arouse the thrill most significant to them. The assessment found viewers that are strongly motivated to socialize, as an example, should be especially fascinated by shows that portray groups having fun, or enjoying their friendships. Also, the assessment concluded that viewers who were deeply motivated by retaliation would be drawn to a more aggressive reality show. This shows that viewers choose to watch shows that they relate too.

When you examine reality television shows and therefore the studies that are done on them, you discover that they can cause impressionable viewers to be more aggressive, with a false sense of reality, and a misleading way of keep viewers tuned in each week for their drama fix. If you are a parent or adult who is concerned about a vulnerable young teenager, then you need to monitor and discuss with them about some of these influential television shows which they are watching.

07 July 2022
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