Reality TV shows are here to stay, so we might as well celebrate the ones that don't suck.
A new survey from the Girl Scouts Institute confirms what most of us already know: Reality television can mess up our kids. After interviewing 1,100 teenage girls, the Girl Scouts concluded that reality show-watchers are more likely than non-watchers to agree that gossiping is a normal part of girls’ relationships, that it’s “hard to trust” girls, and that girls are naturally “catty” with each other [PDF]. They agree with statements like “Being mean earns you more respect than being nice,” and they spend a lot more time perfecting their appearance. Though the survey also points to evidence that train wrecks like Jersey Shore and Extreme Makeover provide teachable moments—two-thirds said that the shows have sparked important conversations with parents and friends—most of the data isn't very heartening.
But, as others have pointed out, all reality shows are not created equal. At least according to reality television's harshest critic: Jennifer Pozner, author of Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV.