Television Viewing and Our Psychosocial Health

6 Jun

1st. article in our 5 week series on the “Starsucker” documentary

Welcome to our five-week series inspired by the documentary film Starsucker. It looks into why we are addicted to fame and celebrities today. Click here to watch. Although, the documentary touches on television and mental health concerns this article aims to understand more in depth television viewing and our psychosocial health. Plus look into how much television impacts our critical thinking skills.

The Starsucker documentary illustrates “shams and deceit involved in creating a pernicious celebrity culture.”[1] If this is true than what impact does television have on our psychological and social health?

What is Psychosocial Health?

The term psychosocial refers to the psychological and social factors that influence mental health. Social influences such as peer pressure, parental support, cultural and religious background, socioeconomic status, and interpersonal relationships all help to shape personality and influence psychological makeup. Individuals with psychosocial disorders frequently have difficulty functioning in social situations and may have problems effectively communicating with others.[2]

In an article “Watching too much TV has harmed mental health of a whole generation of children” it states

Too much television and time spent on the Internet can make children mentally ill, according to major survey into British childhood.”[3]

This article was written and the survey was done almost 5 years ago.  Have our psychosocial health improved since then?

The Starsucker British documentary came out in 2009 . It claims kids spend more time watching Television than they do in school or studying making kids desire fame over intelligence. It further states the media has exploited our natural attraction to fame by claiming fame can only be attained through the entertainment industry.  If that were true then today Steve Jobs and Bill Gates would be best known as reality television stars.

Although the Starsucker documentary focuses mainly on British media and kids. The truth is Americans consume far more television and media than any other country. Here are some statistics to show how much reading has declined in the US.

Percentage of Young Americans Who Read a Book Not Required for Work or School

Age group:18–24

Year 1992-2002: 59%-52%

Change- 7 pp.

Rate of Decline- 12%

Source: National Endowment for the Arts (to see more numbers click here).

No wonder our critical thinking skills have diminished drastically. This might explain why our news has turned into celebrity gossip instead of complex journalism.

Reality Television & Fame Addiction

If you are low income the media can make fame appear to be the quick cure to all money hardship.  During a recession television becomes the easy and most popular social entertainment families gravitate toward (than say going to the library) and reality television targets the poor by making fame look easily attainable.  Today there are more people in Reality TV workshops than in free public libraries around the country. These workshops for a “small fee” will train anyone to become a Reality television star.

Reality television workshops for one 3-hour session can cost $329. 00 or 5 weeks for $3,000.00. Here is what The New York Reality TV School claim,

The mission of The New York Reality TV School is to train and develop non-actors, and actors, through the spectrum of experiences a reality TV contestant will face: from the audition, to the many interviews you’ll go through and the actual show. NYRTVS is not about giving away ‘secrets’. We are about finding and hi-lighting what makes you unique, building your confidence and examining how you package yourself so you can best get cast on the show of your choosing”

What most people don’t realize or factor in when signing up for these workshops. That you won’t become a star overnight and it will require more than a 5-week session.

In the Starsucker documentary they interview a Casting Director for a popular reality show who admits its not healthy for people to be obsessed with auditioning multiple times because if your not cast the first time you will never be.  So if that’s the case then the odds for becoming a famous scientist is far greater then becoming a reality television star.

Hmm! Which one would you rather be? How has reality television changed our psychosocial health?

60 Responses to “Television Viewing and Our Psychosocial Health”

  1. littlebells June 6, 2013 at 5:01 PM #

    There is a freaking reality tv WORKSHOP??? We are doomed…

      • Open Book June 6, 2013 at 5:22 PM #

        EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW! WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY? That’s wonderful let’s make celebrities out of Neanderthals.

        • littlebells June 6, 2013 at 6:21 PM #

          Yeaaaah… Don’t need to see dirty, naked people.

          • ozzie20 June 6, 2013 at 8:16 PM #

            Why Discovery Channel, why? You’re supposed to be the classy channel!

            I have nothing against nudist (it’s not my thing but who am I to judge?). I have nothing against nudity in the arts as long as it can be justified as necessary to getting the artists point across. But that show is nothing but sensationalism. It has nothing to do with the life style of Naturism. It has nothing to do with someone who is put in a remote place and expect to survive with no survival tools. T-shirts, shorts and some shoes doesn’t interfere with that. There’s very little you can do with clothes to make tools to help you survive. Off the top of my mind I can only think of is a water filtration device. So really the only reason for the show to have nudity is it’s an easy way to bring in viewers. It’s car crash TV and it won’t work! How do I know that? It has already happened here in UK the 13 years ago. Was it renewed? Nope! All it did was to cause outrageous headlines and mockery of the people involved.


            • Open Book June 6, 2013 at 8:25 PM #

              ITA Oz! First nudist and artist don’t make a big deal out of being nude like this show aims to do. Do u think they were inspired by the British show Naked Jungle? I thought Discovery Channel was above resorting to T&A to get ratings. I guess not!

              • ozzie20 June 6, 2013 at 9:04 PM #

                I don’t think they were inspired by it purely because it was so long ago and if they had known about it, they’d know how much of a flop it was, lol!

    • Open Book June 6, 2013 at 5:23 PM #


      • Open Book June 6, 2013 at 5:29 PM #


        Yep! Why? Hmm! U notice how just talking about Reality TV has reduced our vocabulary to one syllable.

        • littlebells June 6, 2013 at 6:21 PM #

          HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Yes! So glad we have a book club…

          • Open Book June 6, 2013 at 7:15 PM #

            Hip! Hip! Hooray for Page to Silver Screen!

    • Open Book June 6, 2013 at 7:34 PM #

      What a joke they charge money to teach people how to act natural? Hmm! I have an idea. I will step on someone’s toe “real” hard to get a “real” reaction for free.

      • parisienne June 8, 2013 at 3:30 PM #

        OMG. How to act natural? I think they mean how to “act” when placed in certain environments. If they want to get technical I’d tell them to “Find the truth in the scene.”

        That’s the only FREE acting tip they get. The rest they have to pay me for. LOL

        • Open Book June 9, 2013 at 8:08 PM #

          Hahahaha! Yes! Hold out for the big bucks it looks like Reality TV will be the Gold Rush.

  2. littlebells June 6, 2013 at 6:23 PM #

    I have not had a chance to watch Starsuclers yet, but will do so this afternoon or evening. Right now I’m enriching my brain power with a great book. Don’t want to break the rythm!

    • Open Book June 6, 2013 at 7:21 PM #

      Its a long doc but well worth watching. I know u will enjoy it.

      • ozzie20 June 6, 2013 at 8:26 PM #

        Take anything valuable out of the room you will watch it in. You may end up throwing things at the tv, lol! If I had a baseball bat, I would of been tempted to used it on the TV and the computer. I wanted anything to do with the media out of my life (I calmed down obviously. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t, LOL). I definately look at things differently after watching it. But it is a good documentary! Just be prepared for this

        reaction you will have when you finish it! 🙂

        • Open Book June 6, 2013 at 8:30 PM #

          Oh! My favorite cat. Wow! That cat needs to go on a diet. Hmm! I wonder if it watches too much television?

          • ozzie20 June 6, 2013 at 9:09 PM #

            OH MY GOD! I just scared my cat! I forgot he was next to me when I started watching the video. He jumped about 2 feet into the air and now he won’t stop staring at the door! He’s totally freaked out! ROTFLMAO!

            • Open Book June 8, 2013 at 7:56 AM #

              Hahaha! Your poor kitty.

  3. Open Book June 6, 2013 at 7:11 PM #

    Hi Everyone!

    Welcome to our discussion tonight.

    • ozzie20 June 6, 2013 at 7:16 PM #


      I’m here, just got to catch up! 🙂

      • Open Book June 6, 2013 at 7:18 PM #

        Hi Oz!

        Take your time.

        • ozzie20 June 6, 2013 at 7:41 PM #

          Great article OB! I’m so glad we’ve gotten round to discussing Starsucker. This documentary really disturbed me (the first part with the reality classes and the little boy and really shocked me (the second part with the manipulation of the media). I’d like to find out more about it but I’m not sure where I should start. Maybe a second viewing is needed. I was overwhelmed by all the information!

          • Open Book June 6, 2013 at 7:46 PM #

            Thank u Oz!

            I found the parents of the child the most disturbing. Plus the classes and casting agents laughing at the people signing up to take these classes knowing many won’t ever be cast. I’m sorry its cheaper and the odds are greater in becoming a famous scientist than a reality tv star.

            • ozzie20 June 6, 2013 at 8:31 PM #

              Yeah, I felt sick during most of it for that reason. Plus one of the women in the reality class looks like my Mum and one of the psychologist looked like my G.P! No, no, no, no, no, no, no!

              • Open Book June 6, 2013 at 8:36 PM #

                Oh! Nooooo! Oz! U poor thing. U were really having a no, no, no moment. Apologize and give your Mum a hug.

                • ozzie20 June 6, 2013 at 9:46 PM #

                  Lol, will do! 🙂

            • parisienne June 8, 2013 at 3:33 PM #

              Or the fact that parents weren’t even reading the contracts they were signing and basically signed away the right to use photos of their child for the rest of their lives. The photos now belong to the company. Dumbasses. This is what entertainment lawyers are for.

              • Open Book June 9, 2013 at 8:11 PM #

                Ahh! The voice of reason. I’ve missed u.

          • Open Book June 6, 2013 at 7:51 PM #

            One of the articles I reference claim the more television children watch the more materialistic they become. In the doc the mother of the little boy brags about her son wanting to buy her a house. I have read in researching this article that too much television causes obesity and depression.

            • Open Book June 6, 2013 at 7:54 PM #

              When I talk about television I’m talking about some cable and network tv that have constant fast food commercials.

              • ozzie20 June 6, 2013 at 8:34 PM #

                I think there’s a ban here on fast food comercials playing during times kids are watching tv. I’ll have to look it up.

                I’ll be back!

                • Open Book June 6, 2013 at 8:40 PM #

                  That is fantastic. How responsible. They should really do that in the US.

                  • ozzie20 June 6, 2013 at 8:43 PM #

                    I was right! Well done brain, lol.

                    In November 2006, the Office of Communications (Ofcom) announced that it would ban television advertisements for junk food before, during and after television programming aimed at under-16s in the United Kingdom. These regulations were originally outlined in a proposal earlier in the year. This move has been criticized on both ends of the scale; while the Food and Drink Federation labelled the ban “over the top”, others have said the restrictions do not go far enough (particularly due to the fact that soap operas would be exempt from the ban). On 1 April 2007, junk food advertisements were banned from programmes aimed at four to nine-year-olds. Such advertisements broadcast during programmes “aimed at, or which would appeal to,” ten to fifteen-year-olds will continue to be phased out over the coming months, with a full ban coming into effect on 1 January 2009.


                    • Open Book June 6, 2013 at 8:47 PM #


                      Is obesity a problem among children and adults in the UK?

                    • Open Book June 6, 2013 at 8:48 PM #

                      P.S. Thank u for finding this info.

                    • ozzie20 June 6, 2013 at 9:32 PM #

                      Oh yes! I think we’re the fattest country in Europe. Our portion sizes are still tiny compared to the US but I think we’ll catch up sooner or later. The most recent talk was about banning fish and chip shops from opening till 5pm so kids won’t go there for lunch. Two things wrong with that. 1) The kids will just go elsewhere and 2) it’s going to cut into people’s livelihood and cause owners to go out of business. We don’t need more unemployed people as we don’t have jobs for people who are already unemployed.

                      The best and funniest one I have heard is charging 20 pense more to fresh out of the oven pastries and pies. It has passed too and is in use! People now just wait for them to cool down and pay the original price! Or they just pay it because 20p isn’t much money. They’ve done it to alcohol too. I don’t know the figure but I guess it hasn’t worked. People just buy cheaper alcohol in bulk and end up getting more drunk! I don’t know how to solve obesity but these ideas are stupid and won’t/don’t work. People just laugh or get angry at the stupidity of the goverment for coming up with such ideas.

                    • Open Book June 8, 2013 at 7:58 AM #

                      I heard the UK banned Trans Fats in all fast food as well. I think I read that somewhere is that true? I believe in the US only California has banned Trans Fat from fast food.

  4. Open Book June 6, 2013 at 7:38 PM #

    I would like to thank Paris for bringing this documentary to our attention.

    Hi Paris-We miss u!

    • ozzie20 June 6, 2013 at 8:44 PM #

      Miss you, Paris! 🙂

  5. Open Book June 6, 2013 at 7:55 PM #

    How much television do u watch a day?

    • ozzie20 June 6, 2013 at 8:55 PM #

      I’m not entirely sure. I have the TV on alot because I need background noise. Am I watching it all of that time? Nope and usually it’s a dvd I have on repeat so I don’t see many adverts. So far today I’ve watched TV for 3 or 4 hours but it’s been on and off. I fidget far to much and I can get quite bored easily so I’m usually multi tasking when I watch tv. If there’s something I really want to watch, I have to tape it because I never last the whole length of the programe without doing something else. Which causes me to miss most of it. I know. I’m wierd, LOL!

      • Open Book June 6, 2013 at 9:15 PM #

        I don’t have cable and I don’t watch network television at all. I watch dvd’s mostly movies and docs. I say I watch about 4 hours a week of dvd’s. The Internet I’m on more for work for recreation I say about 4 to 6 hours a week. Anyway, u don’t have a problem Oz! Not at all!

        • ozzie20 June 6, 2013 at 9:40 PM #

          I mostly watch dvd’s too. I don’t think I have own any documentaries but in the UK, we have good documentaries on all the time on tv. I watch some of those too. The one I watched tonight was about that huge Oklahoma tornado. I nearly cried watching it but it was good documentary.

  6. Open Book June 6, 2013 at 7:58 PM #

    Do u think parents influence their children to desire fame instead of intelligence or the media only?

    • ozzie20 June 6, 2013 at 9:00 PM #

      Some definately influence their children! The stage parents who wanted to do it when they were younger and never had the chance. They live through their children.

    • parisienne June 8, 2013 at 3:39 PM #

      I think parents definitely have a hand in the influences upon their child. Its sad that the parents of the little boy in the doc won’t allow him to make the decision for himself when he’s older.

      I think its mentioned in the doc that the parents had to take off work to drive him to auditions. Honestly, they should just do the ones that are closer to home. Let the kid be a kid. He only gets one childhood.

  7. Open Book June 6, 2013 at 8:17 PM #

    One of the references for this article states “Individuals with psychosocial disorders frequently have difficulty functioning in social situations and may have problems effectively communicating with others.”

    Can u name a psychological/social disorder that’s more prominent today than a decade ago?

    • ozzie20 June 6, 2013 at 9:44 PM #

      There’s that celebrity worship syndrome. I think Paris knows more about it. I don’t even know if that’s the correct name!

  8. Open Book June 6, 2013 at 9:17 PM #


    I have to go for the night! Thank u Oz and LB for the great discussion. Have a great evening!

    • ozzie20 June 6, 2013 at 9:47 PM #

      Night from me too! 🙂

  9. littlebells June 7, 2013 at 4:49 PM #

    I’m only 15 minutes into this documentary and my brain is cursing like a sailor! These parents and adults seeking fame for themselves and their kids are…this is just sick and disgusting! Repulsive!

    • Open Book June 8, 2013 at 8:08 AM #

      Hi LB-

      It might be a good idea to watch it in small intervals because its a lot to take in. Plus it keeps u from wanting to throw things……:) I think I’ve watched it 4 times. I’m curious to know what u think about the Reality TV school?

      • parisienne June 8, 2013 at 3:40 PM #

        That reality t.v. school is a crock of shit. There I said it.

        • Open Book June 9, 2013 at 8:17 PM #

          Hahaha! Is this the first lesson u would teach your students? I like it. Sign me up!

    • Open Book June 8, 2013 at 8:13 AM #

      ITA these parents got their priorities all messed up. Why aren’t they educating themselves? The library is free.

      • parisienne June 8, 2013 at 3:45 PM #

        They won’t educate themselves because they see it as a way to get rich quick.

        I don’t think people think of showbiz in reality. Actors are payed a lot, IMO because they may only get jobs scattered here or there its not a constant stream of film making. So they have to live off of something. I hope that made sense.

        • Open Book June 9, 2013 at 8:22 PM #

          Yes! It makes perfect sense. If I may add film actors have to hold out for good material which can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Correct?

          • parisienne June 10, 2013 at 10:23 PM #

            Correct. Although I think actors (most not all) film what resonates with them on a spiritual/emotional level. That’s why some actors also have their own production companies, they can control their own content instead of pushing someone else’s agenda.

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