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Position paper: Negative Impact of Social Media on Girls

Updated on May 1, 2012

The screams of people at a local bar, located near the Jersey shoreline, are amplified through television screens all over on a Thursday night. The camera zooms in as the intoxicated reality television star, Snooki, falls to the ground after being punched in the face by a man. Is this scene, something that a viewer isn’t too shocked to see on reality show Jersey Shore, really something that younger girls should be watching? Social media has too great of an impact on the younger female generations of today. Watching reality television and reading tabloids are giving girls the wrong ideas of how to treat one another and is distorting their view of real life. In addition, these influences are also setting them up to have bad morals. Today’s media only focuses on the bad choices of celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and reality shows such Teen Moms and Jersey Shore. Because of this, girls are being taught the wrong messages. The impact of reality television has lead to a debate of whether questionable television shows should be removed from the air or if there are other preventable actions that can take place. In order to prevent this, parents should be aware of what their children are reading and watching at a young age while they are more susceptible to being influenced by media.

A marriage that lasted for seventy-two days is hardly something that should be idolized, yet it was a news story that topped the tabloids and was highlighted for all to see. The marriage of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries was under speculation of being a publicity stunt that earned Kim nearly $18 million from the occasion, which comes out to about $250,000 per day. (Fox News) Debra Opri, one of Hollywood's leading divorce trial lawyers stated that “The Kim Kardashian-Kris Humphries marriage was always a business deal, going in and will prove to be one, going out… Look at the timing. They planned the wedding in world record time to occur during the NBA's off-season, sold their wedding to the highest bidder (People Magazine) and timed the broadcast 'unveil' to garner skyrocketing ratings.” It’s just ridiculous that a person

could manipulate the public that much and gain the compensation she did for pulling such a stunt. The publicity not only Kim, but a lot of celebrities get when they divorce their spouses is presenting divorce as a norm and as a good thing because they get recognition for it. Younger generations are growing up in a world that shows their “role models” giving up and breaking covenants left and right and it’s teaching them that it is an okay thing to do. Another thing that couldn’t be missed by Kim was the news of her sex tape scandal and a financial gain from Playboy. Again, this is not a first for celebrities. The production of sex tapes by those in the eye of the public do nothing but promote poor moral behavior and give the impression that it is the trendy thing to do.

The normality of sex is also seen in reality television shows such as Teen Mom. Many reporters and families have complained about the series and argue that it is “…sending the message that everybody is having unprotected sex. These shows create a perception that tremendous numbers of teens are becoming pregnant or becoming parents." (Kantor) The show seems to have turned these teen moms into superstars by putting them on television and magazine covers all over the place. By putting these teens in a spotlight, the impression of getting pregnant at a young age is the cool thing to do is created. Some viewers can watch reality television and realize that they were intended to purely entertainment. However, others watch these shows and are actually starting to believe that teen pregnancy is sensational and can lead to fame. Because teen pregnancy has been made into a series and is causing teens to become famous as a result of this, younger girls are beginning to idolize them and their situation. Becoming pregnant at such a young age and having unprotected sex is not something that should be idolized.

The idolization of cast members from the Jersey Shore reality television series is also proving to be detrimental to its younger audiences who are easily influenced and are just waiting to latch onto the next trend. It seems that for the Jersey Shore crew, the more extreme the better. Indecent acts such as smoking, abundant use of profanity, sexually explicit behavior, and excessive drinking are depicted as a part of the casts’ daily routine. Even though they act in such ways, they have become highly paid celebrities and this is giving younger viewers the incorrect impression of what is tolerable and what is not.

By making morally wrong acts commonplace through reality television shows, a young impressionable audience will no longer be shocked by seeing or repeating what they see. They will in turn succumb to the belief that it is acceptable and normal to act in such explicit ways. A recent study finds that girls who watch reality TV shows on a regular basis have a drastically different and more often than not an impractical view of human behavior and this should alarm parents. All of the girls surveyed (over 1,100) agreed that “…reality shows promote bad behavior… believe that reality TV shows often pit girls against each other (86 percent), make people think that fighting is a normal part of a romantic relationship (73 percent), and make people think it’s okay to treat others badly (70 percent).” (Murashko) Shockingly enough a lot of the girls surveyed believed that what they watch on these types of shows is reflecting real life and is not scripted at all. Debbie Bryan states that “The general public has an unquestioning trust of… television…” and this is what leads to a distorted image. The results from the study also showed that viewers who watch reality television regularly expect as well as accept more aggression, drama, and bullying in their personal lives. So how do we prevent younger generations from continuing to think this way?

If reality television shows were removed from the air, there is no doubt that many Americans would view the act as a violation of free speech rights. The content of the television shows have been assessed and have passed ratings inspections. In addition to this, they are also put in time slots according to their content, so the later the show the more likely it is for a mature audience. While many of reality shows give a negative message to young children they do what they are supposed to for more mature audiences, which is to entertain. It is up to the parents to prevent the viewing of a show if they have a problem with the content that is conveyed to their children. There are many ways that they can do this. Parents could simply block questionable channels from their cable settings or prohibit their children from watching inappropriate shows.
The first step to take in order to keep negative influences from affecting a child is up the parents. If they don’t stop their children from watching unsuitable shows then they have themselves to blame. It is not up to companies that produce the reality shows to pick and choose who watches them.

Works Cited:

Bryan, Debbie. "Farm Town News." 275-76. Web. 25 Mar. 2012. Print.

Shiota, Leah. "What Is the Effect of Reality Shows on Teenagers?" Underlying Causes. Demand Media, 11 Jan. 2010. Web. 25 Mar. 2012.

Sun, Feifei. "Teen Moms Are Taking over Reality TV. Is That a Good Thing?" Time. Time, 10 July 2011. Web. 25 Mar. 2012.

McKay, Hollie. "Kim Kardashian's Marriage: Publicity Stunt, Plain Pathetic, or Both?" Entertainment. Fox News, 1 Nov. 2011. Web. 25 Mar. 2012.

Murashko, Alex. "Living." Christian Post. Living, 21 Oct. 2011. Web. 25 Mar. 2012.


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    • JKenny profile image

      James Kenny 5 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Great article Priscilla. I like the way you think, whenever I hear the name Kardashian uttered on TV, I shudder. Surely, there are better role models out there for young girls.

    • duffsmom profile image

      P. Thorpe Christiansen 5 years ago from Pacific Northwest, USA

      Well done.