Reality television entertaining for adults, detrimental to children; parents watch out

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Reality television shows do exactly what they were made to do: entertain viewers. But there seems to be some controversy over the issue of reality TV shows that question the affect they can and do have on American youth.
So the question is, are reality television shows detrimental to American children and teenagers? Or better yet, should they be stopped from airing on national TV because of these negative effects?
Television stations are chock full of reality TV shows like Teen Mom 1 and 2, 16 and Pregnant, I Used to be Fat, Extreme Couponing, Survivor and Jersey Shore just to name a few. While some of these shows have no questionable material in them, large portions have messages that can be detrimental to young children.
Teenagers and even pre-teens these days seems to have an affinity for shows that appeal to a younger audience, like Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant, and while some teenagers can watch these shows and purely see the entertainment value in them, others may see these shows and think that teen pregnancy is glamorous and may lead to fame. This is a truly detrimental mindset for a 15-year-old girl.
Then there are shows like Jersey Shore. Entertaining? Heck yes, I love watching the show and getting a laugh off of Snooki or Pauly D. However, I am a 21-year-old college student and can see the humor in the situation and not a young teenager who may see the excessive alcohol intake and partying and think that it’s “the cool thing to do.”
So in my opinion the shows are extremely entertaining and I like to watch them, yes even Teen Mom.
However, I can see the point that some parents are making about the negative influences that these shows have on children. But what can be done about this?
Do reality television shows that can have a negative impact on American youth need to be removed from the airwaves? Some parents and activists would say so, but if this were to occur would that not be seen as a violation of free speech?
Television is not included under the provisions of the First Amendment, and while there have been laws passed that address the formation of television and some of the content of television shows, there are some Americans who would view a removal of reality television shows from the airwaves to be a violation of our free speech rights.
While this could be contested they do have a point. Television shows that are aired have passed ratings inspections and their time slots are handed out in order of their content.
Shows that are not suitable for young audiences are given air times of 10 p.m. or later.
So what is there to do? In my opinion, keep the reality shows.
While some of them do give a negative message to young children, to the intended target audience these shows do exactly what they are meant for: to entertain.
If parents or activists have a problem with the messages that television shows send to children there is a very simple answer: block those channels from your cable settings or prohibit your children from watching the shows.
There is a television rating system for a reason and that reason is to warn parents about the content of the show before it begins.
If you see that a show is rated MA for mature audiences or TV-14 for audiences over 14, listen to the ratings and stop your children from watching it.
The first step to keeping negative influences from affecting a child is the parent. If you refuse to stop your child from watching it then you are to blame, not the reality television shows or the companies that produce them.

Comments, questions or concerns about this column can be sent to opinions@mercercluster.com.

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