Reality Shows: Their Effect on American Teens

Their Effect on American Teens Martha Wallace ENG 122: English Composition II Professor Kathy Conner August 8, 2011 The values of our forefathers for America have disappeared. Each year more and more of American children are Judging themselves based upon the lives portrayed in popular media. Certain media in the music industry portrays the life of getting rich fast and having a lot of girls. Movies depict a life of fast cars, many sexual partners, and dishonesty. The latest media that has become very popular in portraying negative values Is reality shows.
Reality shows have replaced traditional family values wows such as: Happy Days, Seventh Heaven, The Cowboys Show, Family Matters, and Growing Pains. Today’s family values are now being portrayed through shows like: Keeping up with the Sardinian, Teen Moms, The Real World, Jersey Shore, and all of the Real Housewives shows. Reality shows have changed the way American teens view family and the values of marriage, honesty, and respect. Today’s teenagers view marriage as a commitment between two people who are in love. Once the love is gone, the marriage is over. On the other hand, some adults may think differently.
Marriage is not Just the result from love between two people. There is much more to it. A successful marriage is like a good recipe whose main ingredients, besides love, are commitment, understanding, concern and loyalty. If you can include these qualities In your married life you can find happiness In your marriage. Yet, the future of the stability In American marriage Is slowly decaying. Adults and teens alike are viewing marriage In a different way. This view Is being persuaded by new television shows called Reality television. It Is a known fact the media plays an important part In how teens view themselves and others.

Almost every person in the united States has excess to television and the younger generation is the ones who watch it the most (Cheeseboard, 2003, Para 4). Considering the average teen spends more time watching television than with their parents. The majority of them are also learning about the basic values of life, also from television. This bring about a serious concern of reality shows’ effects on teens attitude, values, and behavior. The traditional family value of marriage is portrayed on reality shows as an option for couples who are living together.
The reality show Keeping up with the Sardinian is a perfect example of his type of arrangement. One of the older sisters, Courtney, currently lives with her boyfriend and when approached by another slang asking her why she refuses to get married. Courtney replies, “I’m not sure If he Is really the one” (Bravo, 2011, Para 2). When her mother approaches her about the same thing, Courtney replies, “Mom, I’m lust not Into ten traditional things” (Bravo, 2011, Para According to David Opened, a Rutgers sociology professor and report co-author, “Cohabitation is here to stay.
I don’t think it is good news, especially for children”, he says, “As society shifts from arraign to co-habitation, which is what’s happening, you have an increase in family instability’ Canyons, 2005, Para 8). The reality shows that have married couples on it either end up in divorce, the wife shows no respect for her husband, or one spouse cheats on the other. These are the lessons reality shows are teaching American teens today. The broadcasting station, Bravo, has a series of shows titled, The Real Housewives of some very popular cities in America. One of those cities is Atlanta.
This reality show is about six women who are married or were once married. The show aired for three years detailing the lives of women who were to represent the real lives of American married women living in Atlanta. Only one of the six was actually married and before the end of the three year series, she was filing for a divorce. Americans by the million were tuning in each week to watch the drama unfold. According to Nelson Media Research, 4. 4 million viewers watched the shows season finale January 30, 2011 and 1. 3 million of those viewers were under the age of 18 (2011).
What does this mean for the future of marriage? Many teenagers no longer look forward to their wedding day. In fact in a conversation with teenagers through a youth organization, Youth for Prevention, Action, and Change Through Thought (HAPPY), which aims to develop community leaders by teaching teens about social, racial, and health disparities in their neighborhoods, many of them do not see the need for marriage. One participant stated, “I’m not looking forward to marriage and I don’t think we [people in general] should be married, because I see how other marriages ended up in my family and on television.
It’s always a disaster. When asked which television shows she mainly watches, she replied, “Reality shows, they ell you how life really is”, Cones, 2006, Para 2). As this ten’s comments indicate, views about marriage are formed by what they see in their lives and in popular media. Shows such as “The Real World” and the media’s focus on the latest celebrity break-up do not paint a perfect picture of marriage. It is a sign of the growing decline in the value of one of the greatest institutions developed in America. It is these factors that may explain why the U.
S. Divorce rate approaches 40 percent. Marriage is not the only American value which seems to be affected by reality shows, honesty s another value among teenagers that is almost invisible and reality shows does not appear to make the view any clearer. There was a time when a man was held to his word and a handshake was the only deed required. Those days are long gone. No one can trust the other. Prenuptial are written before marriages, contracts are required between businesses, and even teenagers are signing contracts with parents.
One reality show, Teen Moms, broadcasted a show which detailed a written contract between one teen and her parents. The purpose of the contract was to validate the parents’ words to help their daughter financially after she gives birth to he child. Reality television shows and their effects on teenagers can depend on the desires and motives they see themselves in these stars and somehow these stars are living their lives through the show. Each reality show portrays and fulfills certain desires like powerful high class living, survival and outwitting others, beauty, revenge Ana amnesty.
Many teenagers enjoy a certain sense AT pleasure Ana satisfaction when they watch these reality television shows and their effects are continuously mirrored in the way they interact with others, deal with various situations, and face certain challenges. According to the teens in HAPPY, the reality shows are entertaining Cones, 2006, Para 5). Yet, most of these shows are built upon other people’s failures, sadness, frustrations, depressions, and other mental and physical handicaps. There are some reality shows that have a positive effect on ten’s lives.
Broadcasting station, FOX, had a show, Trading Spouses, where two families, usually of different social classes, swap wives or husbands for a week. Each family is awarded $50,000, with the stipulation that the guest mother decides how her host family must spend the money (Schneider ; Italian, 2004). The adults show how families can come together and grow. It gives hope to the value of family and honesty. Each participant is required to react normally and to come to an understanding on how to handle differences.
The children are given an opportunity to express themselves and this usually results in their parents making some changes to include the opinions of their children. The parents come face to face with the honesty of some mishaps in their family and agree to make an honest effort to correcting them. These types of reality show effect teens in a positive way. For those men’s that may not have been able to express their thoughts or opinions to their parents, the show gives them suggestions and allow them to see an honest possibility of the outcome.
Most teenagers see their parents as difficult people to compromise with. This type of reality television shows the vulnerable side of parents and how they can make mistake too. Teens begin to see their parents as human and someone they can talk to. Honesty is rarely played out in reality shows, therefore our teens have a front row view of how to become a liar and deceive people. Some of these wows are so deceitful; it is hard to imagine someone would have agreed to be a participant.
For example, “Joe Millionaire”, is a reality show where women compete to win the heart of a supposed millionaire. At the end, the women find out the “Joe Millionaire” is actually an “Average Joe” and have to decide if they want to stay with him. This show is probably one of the most dishonest reality shows and unethical of them all. Teens and adults alike are shown ways to be dishonest and degrade the true meaning of finding love and honesty in an individual. Respect has great importance in everyday life.
As children we are taught ,one hopes, to respect our parents, teachers, and elders, school rules and traffic laws, family and cultural traditions, other people’s feelings and rights, our country’s flag and leaders, the truth and people’s differing opinions (Dillon, 2010, Para 1). If we are to live by this description of respect, then reality shows has gotten it wrong. A study called, “Kids These Days: What Americans Really Think About the Next Generation”, surveyed 2,000 adults who characterized teenagers and young children as “irresponsible”, “rude”, and “lazy’ (Kids these days, 1997).
Those words are scarcely new attitudes towards American’s youth. The reality show, Keeping up with the Sardinian, portrays a family with two teenage daughters who are often rude to their parents, constantly shows disrespect towards each other, and uses profanity towards their parents. This reality show is rated number one among teenagers in America. Yet this show, “Keeping up with the Sardinian”, shows very little respect towards the parents Trot any AT ten SIX centre Foul language Is town across ten room Trot ten teen daughters, young adult children, their boyfriends, and the parents.
There is no respect for other people’s feeling, rights or differing opinions. One particular episode, the teen daughters swore at her mother and told her dad she will make her own decision and didn’t need his help. After consulting with his wife, they agreed to allow their 13 year old daughter to make her decision on a career move that would affect her for the rest of her life. This is not a good message to send to teenagers today. Raising one’s voice and slamming doors is not the way to gain respect.
Yet, reality shows often show teenagers acting this way and the results are often the arenas bending the rules to allow the teens to make their own decisions. Showing respect is the best way for anyone to receive respect. Everyone should have an opinion, be able to express them and feel good about that relationship. No one should feel pressured to do something Just because it seems like everyone else is doing it, or because someone else is trying to get you to do it. Yet that is precisely what most reality shows are doing. Teens are being pursued to make decisions and react to certain things according to celebrities on reality television.
The reality show reduced by MAT, The Real World, gave American Teens a real look at honor and respect in it episode featuring Pedro Somoza. Pedro Somoza was a young man chosen to be one of the six young adults sharing a house in New York City, who Just happened to have AIDS. Pedro died of the disease and America tuned in the watch every episode as it unfolded on television. This series of The Real World, New York taught many people the truth about AIDS. The effect this show had on American teens open their eyes to respect other people, taught valuable lessons on safe sex, and gave AIDS a new found respect.
Since the rising of these popular reality elevation shows, American teens have changed the way they view “entertainment”. This genre has influenced the way teenagers express themselves. Considering many of these shows are geared towards teens, they are the ones who are more susceptible to its various influences. With each passing year more and more of American children are Judging themselves based upon the lives portrayed in popular media. Certain media portrays the life of getting rich fast, having a lot of girls, a life of fast cars, many sexual partners, and dishonesty. There are not many good values portrayed in these reality shows.
Yet, reality shows can give insight to teens about many different types of people and cultures. They can also prepare teenagers for the outcome of bad choices people make about the values of marriage, honesty, and respect. The core role is to see what people reactions in certain scenarios are, and how they face these given situations. American teens can learn and apply these outcomes to their lives. They can learn about teamwork. They can become motivated in life to achieve their goals and can even chase a dream. References Dillon, S. (2010). Respect, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2010 Edition).

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