November 20th, 2015
How Reality TV Poisons Minds & Creates Stereotypes
Would you rather wrap yourself up with a warm blanket, a cup of tea, and a book? Or would you rather wrap yourself up with a warm blanket, a cup of tea, and watch reality TV? To many people in our society today, a good dose of reality TV really hits the spot. Shows like Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Jersey Shore, and Project Runway are incredibly popular, have sky high ratings and draw in too much money to even comprehend but what kinds of effects do these shows have on the people watching them?
Take a moment and think about all the different reality shows there are on TV. You probably lost track of how many you could list in your head. When was the last time you watched a reality TV show? That you probably would have a hard time answering as well. We do not realize how much time we actually spend sitting in front of the TV watching shows that do nothing but provide entertainment for us. Not only does it only provide entertainment it also exposes younger children and adults to stereotypes, creating false impressions of certain people and or groups of people.
It’s natural for humans to imitate and remember what they see. At a young age, children are exposed to reality TV in this generation much more so than they ever have been. Whether it’s parents working, or a babysitter, children are put in front of a TV to stay entertained. With all the shows nowadays, how can a child not be entertained? The only issue is, however, monitoring what children watch. Flipping through channels, a ten-year-old might come across “16 and Pregnant” and that is where the issues begin. Having a child at such a young age be exposed to a show such as 16 and Pregnant allows them to think that it might be alright to have a baby while they’re still a child, and this is only one example of what may run through an adolescent’s head. Another example of something bad coming from reality TV includes, “controversy raised by the adolescents who were copying the stunts performed on MTV’s Jackass’ show! People ranging from 13-19 sustained serious injuries, after imitating stunts from the popular cable show. These young people were merely duplicating what they saw on television. (Jones).” This is prime example of adolescents and reality TV being a bad mixture, however, most parents don’t think of the repercussions of their children watching something to that extent.
On the other side of the spectrum, reality TV is not seen as something harmful to our younger generations. Many see reality TV as a form of pure entertainment, and that is the main reason why reality TV is put out there for the world to see. Many would also argue that is it not harmful to the younger generations due to the fact that parents can ultimately control what their children watch on TV. This has been an argument related to this topic because of parental control locks on televisions and the idea of spending time with and watching one’s children can affect what they watch. Although, parents cannot always be with and or around their children, monitoring their every move, this is still a valid argument when it comes to this topic.
Connecting with the hurtfulness of reality TV to the adolescent mind, stereotypes are brought into the mix. If children are exposed to adult like, reality TV shows at a young age then the likelihood for them to have a certain outlook on a race, gender, or group of people increases significantly because they do not know any better. For example, if children watch shows such as, “Oxygen’s Bad Girls to Bravo’s Real Housewives to the Basketball Wives franchise, the small screen is overflowing with black women who roll their eyes, bob their heads, snap their fingers, spit verbal poison in each other’s faces and otherwise reinforce the ugly stereotype of the angry, uncouth, uncivilized black woman. (Culturs).” If children were to go and reciprocate the same actions they see on TV, the stereotypes of an African American female seen on television will be more so seen than an adult talking about an African American woman because they have more experience in the world and have been able to learn more about people past the stereotypes portrayed by reality TV and the media in general.
Overall, reality TV is more so seen to have a negative affect on adolescents and teens than adults. With developing minds, a lot is to be learned and a lot will be taken in and observed, including the good and the bad regardless. Parents have the ability, technology, and tools to control what their children watch, but this does not always work out as intended. Adults may see things differently due to the fact that they’re more experienced and more developed and this should not overshadow what parents allow their children to watch. Children learn more through reality TV, some things they may never learn from their parents and if that is what they grow up watching and being exposed to then that is going to be their outlook and or view on life. The expectations for living are going to be much more complex and unrealistic to our younger generations thanks to reality TV shows. Not only that, but the way children view other cultures, races, genders etc. may also change and develop in a negative way. Adults do not want this for the younger generations, so in conclusion, the exposure to reality TV for adolescents should be very minimal and potentially avoided.
Ferreira, Phillip. “Do you think reality TV promotes dangerous stereotypes?” Debate.org. Debate.orf, n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2015 <http://www.debate.org/opinions/do-you-think-reality-tv-creates-unhealthy-stereotypes>.
Jones, Alex. “Reality Bites: Pop Culture Poison: Reality TV.” Prison Planet Analysis: n. pag. PrisonPlanet.com. Web. 23 Nov. 2015. <http://www.prisonplanet.com/analysis_newsom_050503_tv.html>.
Melnick, Meredith. “What Reality TV Teaches Teen Girls.” healthland.time.com. Time Magazine, n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2015. <http://healthland.time.com/2011/10/18/what-reality-tv-teaches-teen-girls/>.
Llavador, Bet. “Does Reality TV Encourage Cultural and Gender Stereotypes? Culturs: Global Multicultural Magazine 24 Oct. 2014: n. pag. Print.