Reality TV shows get quite a bad rap these days. Experts have called out these types of shows as being damaging to the mental health of the participants, while a study this year by the Mental Health Foundation found that reality TV fuels body anxiety in viewers.
However, they still provide a whole lot of entertainment and – according to two former reality TV stars – they also provided an amazing opportunity for a much-needed digital detox.
Ashley James, former Made in Chelsea and Celebrity Big Brother star, and Alexandra Crane, who appeared on Love Island in 2018, both admitted that being on reality TV had a positive side effect in that it got them off their mobiles.
Chatting on White Wine Question Time, Ashley said that she rediscovered what it was like to chat to people in real life.
“The most wonderful thing when I was in Celebrity Big Brother… was the art of conversation,” she told podcast host Kate Thornton.
“We didn't have phones, so we'd be like 'Guys, do you remember that film? What film? It was with these people? I can't remember the name'. It was nice, you know 'Guys, come into this conversation, I'm trying to remember this' and it was amazing!”
Former Love Island star Alex agreed, saying everyone always asks her how she coped without a phone during her time in the villa.
“You don’t think about it,” she explained. “You're just having a bloody good time. You feel like you're back to being a child again.”
Alex believes easy access to social media is one of the reasons young people are suffering with so many issues these days.
“I can't comprehend what it must be like for a teenager now to have access to a phone with social media at the age of 11 years old,” she said.
“I won a phone in a raffle at the age of 11 and it was a brick Nokia with an aerial. You paid for the calls individually. I never had access to social media until I was around 16. It's a completely different world now. That for me is the reason why anxiety and depression rates have soared completely.”
Ashley, who took part in a body confidence talk at the Houses of Parliament in June this year, believes social media can feel more personal than things that happen in real life.
“I feel like we're all people pleasers and we all want people to love us,” she said.
“We could all sit in a room and like each other, but then we go to a bar and not everyone would like us, but if they told us on social media they didn't like us, we'd take that so personally.”
Listen to Ashley James and Alexandra Crane talk body positivity, acne and cellulite alongside Instagram influencer Chessie King on this week’s episode of White Wine Question Time. Listen now on iTunes or Spotify.