Reality television can add some annoying if not downright dangerous new ideas to kids' imaginations. It also shows kids a distorted view of "reality," since these television programs don't bear much resemblance to the actual reality of daily life. Kids don't know that. Kids under the age of six don't have the cognitive development to distinguish television content from reality. Kids older than six may decide that something they see is worth imitating, even if they know it's not real.
Sending the Wrong Message
Some reality shows feature people doing dangerous stunts to win prizes. Fear Factor is one example, including the family version that features family members doing dangerous tasks together. On the shows, stunt crews have prepared the contestants, provided safety equipment and stationed paramedics nearby in case anyone gets hurt. In real life, these stunts could be life threatening.
Other reality shows, such as Nanny 911, feature kids who behave quite badly. Some kids who may not have behavior issues may decide to try out those behaviors at home, much to their parents' displeasure.
Many reality shows, including Big Brother, Deal or No Deal and even The Amazing Race show people behaving ridiculously to get attention, fighting, sabotaging each other, having inappropriate relationships and exhibiting a substandard moral code. Do you really want your kids learning lessons from shows like this?
How can you be responsible about reality television when it's so pervasive?
Cable television can bring a world of unsettling images into your home. Fortunately, there are easy ways to limit what your child can see.
Many parents want to curb their children's TV time, but aren't sure how to go about it, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).