How many times did you use the phrase when I was young, there were no such things… when you had a quarrel with your child? And it is true….we raise our children in very different times. Not only do they physically develop at more early ages, but they seem to understand a lot more things than we did at their age.
Nowadays, children develop their personality at more tender ages: when they are 5 they want to pick up their own clothes, they are interested in fashion, and when they’re 7 they start picking up role models- but not the Disneyland princesses we all loved back then. Well, when I was 5, I barely noticed what mom had picked up for me to wear…all I knew was what I wanted for Christmas!
Studies show that during elementary school, children begin to look beyond their parents as the inspiration for their identity. “There is a moment when a child makes a connection with a certain type of person. Suddenly they want to know more about that person, and they want to look like and dress like him or her,” says Vicki Hoefle, author of Duct Tape Parenting. But things get “dirty” when children become more and more interested in celebrities without parental guidance.
In nowadays society, when they’re 7 or 8 years old, children are watching cartoons no more; they are watching the so called Teen TV Series, and their role models are young celebrities and Hollywood Stars. But, considering the fact that these young actors and singers live in a very different world comparing to the average child/teenager, is it OK to let our children consider them positive role models?
How many times did your teenage daughter tell you that she wanted some special outfit she saw on Miley Cyrus? ‘Cause last year, I heard this one all around me in malls, supermarkets, anywhere: little girls with Miley Cyrus purses, teenagers with indecent outfits, cause that’s what Jaden Smith wears, and so on. Well, lately, these two Hollywood celebs mentioned above did some pretty nasty things. Miley’s singles "We Can't Stop" and "Wrecking Ball" were promoted with provocative music videos. Of course, some of them could be only marketing strategy, but do our teens understand that? For the 2011 Guinness World Records, she was named the “Most Charted Teenager”.
Miley Cyrus became a teen idol after being cast in the Disney Channel television series Hannah Montana. Still, she is considered to be a teen idol, but what do our teens learn from her? In her new video, Miley Cyrus swings completely naked from a wrecking ball, and she smacks herself, doing indecent gestures. Is that a role model? Okay…maybe the nude apparition was just a way to increase publicity...or maybe she wanted to make a statement: she is not the little girl we knew, not anymore. Celebs use this kind of stuff to attract more viewers…but she took things on a whole new level at the EMA awards when she lit up a cigarette on stage. The scenes were edited out by MTV when the show aired in the US.
Unfortunately, there is no shortage of celebs and pop stars who have adopted this kind of behavior. Young people are very much influenced by TV, mass-media or social networks. So, what happens when a famous and world wide known kid encourages children to drop out of school, on one of the most accessed social network? At 15, Jaden Smith, the son of actor Will Smith, tweeted two days about education and how “If everybody in the world dropped out of school, we would have a much more intelligent society.” He has 4.5 millions of fans on tweeter and he states that “School is the tool to brainwash the youth!”Surely, between those millions of fans, there will be children actually dropping out of school.
Demi Lovato is another teen idol, also known from the Disney Channel television series. Her case was even worse, because she was still filming for the films Camp Rock and Camp Rock2: The final Jam and she was starring the channel's show Sonny With a Chance when she went into rehab for drug and alcohol abuse and eating disorders. So…it doesn’t matter if you are using drugs and alcohol, you can still be a celebrity, a role model, being cast in productions for children? Is that the message our children get? Moreover, she stated that:"When I was in treatment, I honestly thought my career was over, but when I came out of treatment, I had more supportive fans than ever."
The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that eating disorders affect more than one million Americans a year and the youngest patience are eight. Celebrities influence our youth to be thinner and thinner and to have destructive attitudes, bad language, and so on.
Celebrities need to change the way they act. They have to understand that their actions influence more people than they can imagine. Thin, addicted celebs, half naked, appearing on the covers of tabloids after parties are changing the way many teenagers act today.
Of course, we can not stop the media! There are less and less ways to stop our youth from being exposed to such behaviors. However, a proper education, attentive parents and an excellent entourage are the best ways to counterstrike. Parents should influence their children in picking up a celebrity role model.