Is Snooki a good role model for your tween daughter? Not surprisingly, the answer is no. But while it may seem like a laugh to let your daughter watch the reality TV star — and countless others like her — muddle through her life, you might be surprised to learn just how much a TV star's actions affect the way their viewers see themselves, their relationships and the world.
According to new research by the Girl Scout Research Institute, 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 institute's new report, Real to Me: Girls and Reality TV, found that 78 percent of young girls who watch reality TV think "gossiping is a normal part of a relationship between girls," compared to 54 percent of girls who don't watch those programs. Reality TV viewers are also more likely than non-viewers to say "girls often have to compete for a guy's attention." Forty-nine percent of reality TV viewers reported feeling happier when they are dating someone or have a boyfriend/significant other, compared to just 28 percent of girls who are non-viewers.
Girls who view reality television shows regularly are also more focused on the value of physical appearance. Seventy-two 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.
But there is also some good news. The study also revealed that girls who watch reality TV may have more self-confidence than those who don't — 75 percent think they are currently seen as a leader and see themselves as role models for other girls. Sixty-eight percent of girls reported that reality shows "make me think I can achieve anything in life" and 48 percent said that they "help me realize there are people out there like me."
What do you think about the Girl Scout Institute's research? Do you allow your young daughters to watch reality TV?
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