Reality shows are bad for your mental health, and many fans have low-esteem, according to recent studies. Four studies on the potential impact on viewers all basically draw the same potentially negative conclusions.
A panel of psychologists voiced concerns that watching reality shows could have long-term negative consequences. A glorification of bullying was also cited as a possible outcome for reality show fans. Enhanced aggressive behavior of viewers was a short-term concern voiced by Brigham Young University psychologists.
You can become what you watch, one of the reality show studies points out. None of the reality show studies addressed the potential impact on children of non-scripted television cast members. Even if children do not appear on the shows themselves, it is possible that the kids do watch episode clips and interviews online. A reality show mom might think her children do not know how much she drinks, curses, argues with pals, or sleeps around. But, there is likely no shielding them from parental television behavior if the kids have internet access.
The studies also noted that reality show fans who could not seek revenge for perceived wrongs in their own lives derive satisfaction from watching their favorite cast members give payback onscreen.
A Girl Scout Research Institute reality show study also highlighted possible viewer behavior changes. The report found that girls and young women watching such shows grew to accept and expect an increased level of bullying, drama, and aggression in their own lives.
A total of 78 percent of young female reality fans thought gossip was merely a relationship norm among friends. A total of 68 percent of participants felt being catty was a natural way for women to behave with one another.
The Girl Scout study on non-scripted shows indicated that fans also noted they have issues trusting their friends to a tune of 63 percent. Percentages from participants who were not reality show watchers scored far lower in all categories.
A Today study revealed that many reality fans suffer from lower self-esteem and neurotic behavior more than non-viewers. Boredom in their own personal lives was cited as one of the top reasons why Americans plop themselves down and turn on non-scripted shows. The Real Housewives franchise was the top reality offering among women and Deadliest Catch among the guys.
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