In 2011, The Girl Scout Research Institute released a national survey called Real to Me: Girls and Reality TV.
The study found that the vast majority of girls think reality shows "often pit girls against each other to make the shows more exciting" (86 percent). When comparing the propensity for relational aggression between viewers and non-viewers of reality TV, 78 percent vs. 54 percent state that "gossiping is a normal part of a relationship between girls."
Real to Me is regularly cited by journalists and has been infused into multiple programmatic offerings across the country. In Illinois, the Deerfield Patch reports that The Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana held a group discussion about bullying recently between “Bullied” author Carrie Goldman, and Maria Wynne, the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana CEO.
“For us at the Girl Scouts, bullying is a key element of discussion,” Wynne said. “We know how bullying can shape the destiny of a child, their self-esteem and their overall childhood, which should be nothing but joyful.”
The study also found that young girls are increasingly being influenced by different forms of media, such as reality television, which can glorify cattiness and bullying.
Fox News also cites Real to Me in an article titled, "Experts: Reality shows featuring fighting females harmful to the young girls who watch them". The article examines the fact that while many of the "girls" on reality television shows are actually adults, many of these shows’ viewers are young girls. The take a look at the numbers:
Real to Me found significant differences between girls who consume reality television on a regular basis and those who did not. The research indicated that the regular viewers believed that “being mean earns you more respect than being nice” and are “more focused on the value of physical appearance.”
- MTV’s “Jersey Shore” Season 5 averaged 5.8 million viewers, including one million ages 12-17.
- Bravo's “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” Season 2 averaged 2.2 million people, with about a quarter of the viewers under 18.
- E!'s “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” averages around 209,000 people in the 12-17 demographic per episode.
- CW's “America's Next Top Model” attracted one million minors out of its 1.2 million average viewers last season.
- VH1's “Basketball Wives” Season 4 averaged 166,000 teen viewers per episode.
Girls Scouts of the USA is proud to be a part of The commission for Positive Images of Women and Girls was formed in 2010 and supports efforts to increase the number of female characters in the media and ensure that female roles, images, and portrayals are authentic, balanced and healthy. As part of this effort, the Commission seeks to have more positive images of women and girls in all media, especially programs designed for younger and teen audiences. Girl Scouts is a founding member of the commission along with The Creative Coalition, the National Association of Broadcasters, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, and The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.