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Is Reality Television Bad for Kids?

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Authored by Stacy Hensley in Parenting
Published on 10-01-2009

In the last few years, reality television shows have taken over most of the prime time slots on our TV screens each night. These shows center around contestants competing against each other to win money and prizes. People will do crazy things for money, and reality television is proof of that.

So, is reality television bad for kids? That depends on their parents. Kids see and hear things daily at home, school, and other places that they should not be exposed to.

Parents have the responsibility of teaching their children what is right and wrong. There are ways that you can make it clear to your child that there are good things and bad things on a lot of television shows, whether it is reality television, a horror movie, or a crime show.

Explain to your child how these reality shows are not as real as they seem. A one hour reality television show is the product of hours and hours of editing by the people behind the scenes.This editing is often done in ways to make the audience perceive things differently than the way they actually happened.

Some of the reality television shows have dangerous competitions. Be sure that your child understands these dangers, and that they should never try to do any of the things that they see people on television doing. Explain the dangers and how the reality television show takes precautions to keep the contestants from being hurt. Use this as an opportunity to point out any visible safety equipment that the reality show contestants are using.

Choose to watch reality television shows that are geared more towards the contestants having a specific talent. Shows like “Dancing with the Stars“, “American Idol“, and “So You Think You Can Dance” are better viewing choices for children. These shows can help emphasize that hard work, motivation and determination are important in life.

Children need to understand that money is not everything. Happiness can be attained without someone having to be rich. Give your child a few responsibilities and let them earn an allowance. This will help teach them the rewards of working to get the things that they want or need.

Parents can try their best to keep their children from being exposed to sex, cussing, drugs, and violence, but it just isn’t possible all the time. It doesn’t matter if they see it on a reality television show, or hear it from a friend at school. What matters the most is how the parents handle it. Be honest and let your children know that you will always do your best to answer their questions. Establish a relationship that shows them that they can always talk openly and honestly about things that they see or hear with you.

Yes, reality television shows can be bad for kids. But parents can take a proactive stance by explaining things that will help their children understand that what they see on reality television is not always reality.

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