The Impact Of Reality Television On Teenagers

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Even though reality television exploded in the 2000s, it is still currently the most popular genre of all programs. In our society, younger viewers such as teenagers are exposed to a lot of graphic content. Some of this content includes inappropriate language, sexual activity, drugs and much more. Teenagers have made it a habit to watch reality television and this leads to a lot of negative impacts, the most common negative influences on teens from watching reality television include a lack of focus on what is happening in the real world and low self-esteem.

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Teenagers typically see reality television programs as favourable, inspiring and uplifting. Reality programs give them optimism that hopefully one day their lives could be the same as the people they watch. School consultant and clinical psychologist Dr. Adair contends that “Reality television plays a huge part in our culture where teenagers suggest what matters most is fame.” Not only do teenagers want fame, but they also dream about living life in luxury and glamour and reality television allows them to have a glimpse of what their lives could be, rather than inspiring them to see what they have already. Due to teenagers’ still growing and learning ethics and morals, they are open to induce habits and beliefs from television rather than in real life. This means a lot of teenagers today learn different principles then what expected for an average teenager in the older years perhaps their parents grew up in, there has been a vast difference in values over the years due to reality television and this impacts teenager’s social skills dramatically.

There is a massive impact on teenager’s belief systems due to reality television, it exposes viewers to lose sight of the real world and what is truly important. The assistant professor of communication at Boston University, Dr. Tsay-Vogel suggested that ‘The division between fact and fantasy is blurred…heavy exposure to reality TV affects peoples’ realities in the real world.’ Reality television is so widespread, so it is a lot easier for teens to become addicted or obsessed with the different shows and programs available to watch. The average amount of time teenagers watch reality television is around 28 hours a week, this means that in a period of one year there are around 15,000 hours wasted on watching reality television, this is more hours than an average teenager would go to school. An investigation executed by the Girl Scout Research Institute had found that reality television has a massive effect on specifically female teenagers. Reality television impacts the way young girls value themselves and their view on real-life occurrences. Ideally, reality television highlights women idealizing physical appearance and attractiveness which gives the overall impression that a woman is purely valued for their looks.

It is a natural tendency to relate yourself to other people, reality television showcases stunning and very attractive women so generally the younger female viewers compare themselves to the ideal standards of beauty shown within reality television. This idealisation of beauty that reality television displays provides teenagers with a twisted sense of what every female should look and be like. The idealisation of beauty enforces very high social standards for female teenagers because they want to look good in social situations. Reality television teaches teens that they are not truly beautiful unless they look like the people on the television. Due to the expectations of appearances that teenagers are meant to meet, they are most likely to have lower self-esteem and have a lot more insecurities, this reveals that reality television is a serious cause of mental illness. The Lewis and Clark College communications professor and American University communications assistant professor, Peter Christenson and Maria Ivancin express ‘Concern that the obsession with being physically attractive and sexually desirable as portrayed on television may contribute to the rise in eating disorders among young girls.’

In general, it is apparent that reality television programs are affecting teenagers in a negative manner, reality television shows promote inappropriate behaviour in teenagers. Reality television indorses early sexual activity, dysfunctional relationships, shallow personalities, bullying, and drug or substance abuse. Reality television is a hazard to teens growing minds and impacts them a great deal. 

16 August 2021

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