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Reality TV Encourages Mean Girls Behavior In Teens

Forget MTV scripted programs being a horrendous waste of your teen’s time, keep them away from reality TV. Or don’t. A study recently from The Girl Scouts Research Institute -- yes, that’s a real thing -- says girls who watch lots of reality TV not only expect a lot more drama from their lives, but they also expect bullying, aggression, and presume their worth will be measured by appearances. I kind of get it. It would be a lot harder to be cheery if you woke up every day thinking your life was going to be an episode of For the Love of Ray J, or worse, Russian Dolls.

According to Girl Scouts of America developmental psychologist Andrea Bastiani, watching reality media can cause a lot of problems for girls.

Girls today are bombarded with media -- reality TV and otherwise -- that more frequently portrays girls and women in competition with one another rather than in support or collaboration. This perpetuates a "mean-girl" stereotype and normalizes this behavior among girls.

No need to pull out the rosaries and pray for your young ones just yet. Deadline mentions the results of the study aren’t all bad. Often, girls down with reality TV desire to take leadership positions and also see themselves as role models for other girls. Reality TV can even open doors for many girls to learn about different perspectives and beliefs.

It’s all about having a grip on what you are watching and knowing who you are. I know that’s especially hard for teen girls, whose brain functions and hormones are all over the board, but you just have to understand reality TV takes marginalized, outside-the-box, and over-the-top personalities that will inevitably collide, and many times throws those personalities into a brand new environment together. If you watch from that perspective, it’s a lot easier to see that reality TV is not particularly realistic.

For more information and the actual statistics, you can head over to The Girl Scouts Research Institute.