Reality Shows: Their Effect on American Teens
ENG 122: English Composition II
Professor Kathy Conner
August 8, 2011
Reality Shows: Their Effect on American Teens
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 shows such as: Happy Days, Seventh Heaven, The Cosby Show, Family Matters, and Growing Pains. Today’s family values are now being portrayed through shows like: Keeping up with the Kardashians, 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 access to television and the younger generation is the ones who watch it the most (Chesebro, 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 Kardashians is a perfect example of this type of arrangement. One of the older sisters, Kourtney, currently lives with her boyfriend and when approached by another sibling asking her why she refuses to get married. Kourtney replies, “I’m not sure if he is really the one” (Bravo, 2011, para 2). When her mother approaches her about the same thing, Kourtney replies, “Mom, I’m just not into the traditional things” (Bravo, 2011, para 2). According to David Popenoe, 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 marriage to co-habitation, which is what’s happening, you have an increase in family instability” (Jayson, 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...
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