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St. Jude Radiothon 2024

Maybe the genre should be called “Fantasy TV.” Without question, today’s crop of “reality” TV shows appear to be negatively impacting the behavior and perspectives of young girls who tune in regularly – according to a study released by The Girl Scout Research Institute.

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The recent Girl Scouts Study, ‘Real to Me: Girls and Reality TV,’ is yet another wake-up call for parents everywhere,” said Teresa Tomeo, bestselling author whose newest book is EXTREME MAKEOVER. “When it comes to media and young people, less is definitely more.”

The research firm TRU surveyed a national sample of 1,141 girls ages 11-17. Forty-seven percent identified themselves as regular viewers of reality programming; 30 percent said they watched sometimes; and 23 percent rarely or never watch a show in the genre.

“Reality shows promote bad behavior” is a unanimous finding of the study.

Other highlights:

  • More than 70% of regular viewers spend a lot of time on their appearance, and 38% think a girl’s value is based on how she looks (vs. 28% of non-viewers);
  • Almost 30% of regular viewers would rather be recognized for their outer beauty than their inner beauty (vs. 18% of non-viewers);
  • Almost 40% of regular viewers believe “you have to lie to get ahead” (vs. 24% of non-viewers).

“Adults, at least for the most part, are savvy enough to realize that ‘reality’ TV is anything but real life” Tomeo said. “The genre gains viewers by sensationalizing and dramatizing every day activities and providing a shock value.

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