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The Influence of Reality TV on Teen Girls

author image Amy Pearson
Amy Pearson earned dual bachelor's degrees in management and horticulture. She is a licensed elementary teacher for kindergarten through sixth grades. Pearson specializes in flower and vegetable gardening, landscape design, education, early childhood and child development.
The Influence of Reality TV on Teen Girls
Teen girls might not separate reality television's entertainment value from their own values. Photo Credit Goodshoot RF/Goodshoot/Getty Images

While not solely accountable for their morality and behavioral choices, reality television's influence on teen girls is undeniable. Many teen girls watch reality shows that glorify alcohol abuse, encourage confrontations and minimize potential consequences of sexual activity. Teen girls might not notice the scripted and unrealistic nature of many shows, a publication by the Kaiser Family Foundation reports. Some might view dating shows featuring a handsome man surrounded by attractive eligible bachelorettes as a realistic way to find a mate.

Positive Influences

Even though teen girls are vulnerable to reality television’s negative qualities, some might use them to motivate them for more positive lifestyles. After viewing out-of-control or ridiculous antics, teen girls might avoid similar actions in their own lives. Some reality shows teach teens about the home-buying process, cooking or do-it-yourself home repair. Home improvement reality shows sometimes feature women in roles previously associated with men, such as construction or "handyman" jobs. Teen girls might be inspired to pursue similar careers and learn self-sufficiency skills, a survey by the Girl Scout Research Institute found.

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Sexual Activity

Teen girls might claim they do not want to emulate reality stars’ behavior, but exposure to the shows over time can affect them negatively. Many teens who witness the consequences of sexual activity on reality shows vow not to make the same mistakes, a phenomenon reported by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Reality shows featuring teenage mothers might encourage birth control use or abstinence in teen girls. However, some might place a high value on sexual attractiveness after witnessing sexually explicit shows, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Researchers determined teen girls who watch sexually explicit shows are much more likely to become pregnant, Colorado Children’s Hospital reports.

Alcohol Abuse

When reality stars are shown downing alcohol, teen girls might emulate their behavior. Teen girls might assume that consuming alcohol at a young age is safe. Some might abuse alcohol and assume that they are not accountable for their intoxicated behavior. Others might abuse friends or peers while intoxicated and assume their behavior is acceptable because they witnessed reality television stars doing the same thing, as the Girl Scout Research Institute reports.

Confidence and Body-image

Teen girls might feel self-conscious of their natural changing physique, struggle with low-self esteem or battle eating disorders, particularly after watching the surgically enhanced young women with unrealistic body types often featured on competitive reality shows. Teen girls might view extreme weight-loss shows on reality TV as a healthy or feasible way to lose weight, but the American Council on Exercise suggests they are too extreme.

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