Thursday, July 01, 2010

Reality Television and Peer Abuse

Reality Television has become incredibly popular in the United States. These days, there may be more of this than any other form of viewing, and while some of it can be educational, much of it can be detrimental.

According to an article in USA Today, reality television may be teaching Americans how to overreact. We see participants form alliances against others, verbally abuse each other and exhibit physical violence. Adults understand that this behavior is for entertainment purposes alone and that this is not how we should behave in our own lives. However, the article suggests that, without realizing it, we may be carrying this over into our own lives and how we react to others.

Dr. Roderick Hart, a professor at the University of Texas in Austin, says, "People can be seduced into thinking that’s the most common way of reacting to life when it’s not. Because of this 'tutoring' of emotions people are becoming culturally conditioned to think it’s okay to be more over-reactive."

Not only are they adding to the need to react emotionally, these shows may be teaching us how to bully and abuse peers. Exclusion, alliance-forming to harm others, and verbal and physical abuse all add to the problem of peer abuse. A recent study conducted at Brigham Young University on reality television and relational aggression found that shows like The Apprentice had 85 acts of verbal aggression an hour and American Idol had 57.

The more we watch reality television the more we are learning that it is okay to abuse others. It is not okay to abuse anyone, and maybe it is time to evaluate this behavior in our culture. This is certainly something to think about.

Article first published as Reality TV and Peer Abuse on Technorati