Combating the negative impacts of reality TV on girls' sense of self

Published: Saturday, May 26 2012 12:00 p.m. MDT

In conjunction with its "Real to Me" survey results, the Girl Scout Research Council published a "Tips for Parents" primer. General topical categories in the tip sheet include things like encouraging your daughter to look beyond the mirror ("Compliment her on her talents and praise her for her values or willingness to try new things. Encourage her to pursue interests that are not based on improving her looks"), and creating alternatives for the entire family ("You can even think about ways you can use what you see on TV to get the family interested in other things. For instance: Try out a recipe seen on a cooking program").

Pozner is quick to point out that instilling teens with enough media literacy to make sense of reality TV will yield benefits that extend decades into the future and include all forms of media they'll consume throughout their lives.

"The first step to becoming active media consumers is to be really critical — and that doesn't mean being negative," Pozner said. "That means asking questions (to) break the cycle of taking in images and then changing our consumer behavior or our ideological outlook without even realizing that we're doing it in response to media. ...

"I get mail all the time from teenagers and young adults saying that they have changed their (reality TV) viewership habits very thoroughly," Pozner said. "Some have said that they've stopped watching, but many of them said it's not that they stopped watching but that they just have the tools they need to deconstruct what is being sold to them and to think more critically about the media they engage with."

Email: jaskar@desnews.com

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