The success of reality television shows essentially depends on how popular they become with the public. The more viewers they receive, the more advertisers they attract. More advertisers lead to bigger profits for production companies and better salaries for employees. Better salaries employ above-average creativity that translates into programming options for development. Hopefully, the development process will bring interesting, intense and extreme encounters to the viewers. High levels of intense and extreme confrontations among participants seem to bring in higher levels of ratings.
Many reality shows, for example, demonstrate common problems that people share on a daily basis. However, they can be glamorized. In many cases, verbal and physical fights break out without notice between housewives and/or single women as they pursue a husband. Often, their encounters are vulgar, condescending and without finesse. Nevertheless, critics indicate that this is what makes a reality show attractive to viewers and successful to networks with high ratings.
One should remember the strategy behind TV reality whenever viewing shows and consider the impact it may have on individuals.
Negative impact on adults
For many people, reality TV is considered bottom of the barrel entertainment and an insult to their intelligence. But adults who consistently watch reality TV can be easily influenced by it especially, when they have low self-esteem, impaired values, and/or displaced anger issues. Dr. Brad Gorham from Syracuse University states that when arguments, for example, break into actual fist fights on a reality show, the adult viewer could become aggressive and possibly violent. People see such enactments as attractive or funny and may imitate the behavior in everyday situations. One of the major problems according to experts, is that the characters in the shows do not demonstrate taking responsibility for their actions. In addition, even programming that focuses on medical or health issues could affect a person's body image and self-worth over time, according to Dr. Peter Christenson from Lewis and Clark College.
Negative impact on youth
Research indicates that reality TV strongly impacts the values of teenage girls and how they perceive real-life situations. Moreover, experts agree that there is a link between emotional, verbal and physical aggressive reality shows and bullying. The aggression demonstrated on TV is often misinterpreted as using a tool or technique to acquire what you want and how it will bring you happiness. Young men and women who engage in excessive partying, sexualized body image and little work ethic in lieu of a good time are sending mixed messages to our youth. Consequently, values, self-worth and daily interactions are impacted by the dysfunctional lives created by reality TV.
How can we help?
1. Parents are a crucial component in modeling proper program viewing.
2. Healthy interaction between parents and children demonstrates ideal behavior toward others and delivers a sound self-image with values in place.
3. Adults and youth must recognize TV reality for what it really is and how misleading and damaging it could be to our society.