Monday, October 17, 2011

Reality TV spurs mean girl behaviour: US poll

WASHINGTON: Girls who watch reality TV regularly expect - and accept - more bullying and drama in their lives.

A just-released study in the United States suggests these girls also assign more value to physical appearances, and view themselves as leaders and role models.

The poll by the Girl Scouts of the US of 1,141 girls aged 11 to 17 offers a snapshot of the possible impact of reality TV on youngsters.

'We were kind of surprised to find such a huge difference between girls who regularly consume reality TV and those who don't,' Ms Kimberlee Salmond, senior researcher at the Girl Scout Research Institute, said in a telephone interview from New York.

'.. most girls think that reality TV is real and unscripted television.'

In the US, watching television - of any kind - remains 'the No.1 activity' for American girls, taking up about 12 hours of their time every week.

Ms Salmond said: 'It far outpaces time spent on homework, friends or social networking sites, or completing extracurricular work.'

Of all the girls surveyed - and Ms Salmond said the sample was representative of American society- about half are regular reality TV viewers.

Of the reality TV viewers, 78 per cent were more likely to agree that gossiping was normal in relationships between girls, against 54 per cent who did not. Also, 68 per cent thought it was in girls' nature to be catty and competitive, compared with 50 per cent of the non-reality viewers, and 63 per cent found it tough to trust other girls, compared with 50 per cent.

Reality TV fans were more likely to believe that girls must compete for a boy's attention, that dating and boyfriends make them happier, to spend a lot of time on their appearance and to attribute a girl's worth to her looks.

They were more likely, too, to believe that you have to lie to get what you want (37 per cent versus 24 per cent), that meanness gets you more respect (37 per cent versus 25 per cent) and that you have to be mean to others to get what you want (28 per cent versus 18 per cent).

That said, the majority of girls watching reality TV saw themselves to be mature, smart, funny and outgoing, the study suggested. They were also more inclined to aspire to leadership and to see themselves as role models.

The poll found a preference among American girls for competition and makeover shows such as 'American Idol' and 'The Biggest Loser'.