Turns out that the latter leads to the former! Recent research by the University of Buffalo Department of Communication and the University of Hawaii reveals that the people who watch reality television visit social networking websites to engage in behaviors like the celebrities they see on shows like American Idol or Survivor.
When people on reality TV are rewarded for their behavior, it communicates to the (usually) young audience that these behaviors are good things. These so-called “reality” TV shows depict people being exploitive, deceitful, hyper-emotional, vengeful, conspiratorial, sexually promiscuous, generally undignified, immodest, self-centered, and basically exhibitionistic.
According to the university research, “heavy reality TV viewers may adapt personality traits association with celebrities….Reality TV even may be to blame for the erosion of the distinction between the everyday world and the celebrity world.”
This phenomenon is encouraging young folks to make personal information about themselves publicly available online. We’ve all heard about the proliferation of youngsters sending photos to each other and through the Internet, revealing their genitals and showing themselves engaged in various sexual acts. Instead of this being “shameful,” it’s trendy. Parents are becoming way too lax in allowing their children access to electronic equipment, from cell phones to the Internet, without any supervision. So, with a little “push” and little “pull” back, kids are getting themselves into situations which will impact them for a lifetime.
When children behave like out-of-control celebrities, including drug use, sex, having out-of-wedlock babies, “shacking up,” and testing their parents’ limits as well as the limits of the law, they are less likely to be studying, participating in sports, or contributing charitably in their neighborhoods.