Study: Tween TV today is all about fame
August 5th, 2011
09:39 AM ET

Study: Tween TV today is all about fame

What do tweens value most?  If you are thinking honesty or self-acceptance think again.

To find out, researchers say, watch their favorite TV shows. The  values the shows promote above everything else, according to a new study from the University of  California, Los Angeles, is fame. Other individualistic values, such as financial success and physical fitness are also high on the wish list.

The study, published in the Journal of Psychology Research on Cyberspace, found shows popular with children aged 9 to 11 now hold “fame” as their No. 1 value.  Fame ranked 15th in 1997. This raises red flags for researchers, who say the shift in values over the last 10 years may have a negative effect on the future goals and accomplishments of American youth.

“(Tweens) are unrealistic about what they have to do to become famous,” Patricia Greenfield, Ph.D from the Department of Psychology at UCLA and co-author of this study told CNN. “They may give up on actually preparing for careers and realistic goals.”

"With Internet celebrities and reality TV stars everywhere, the pathway for nearly anyone to become famous, without a connection to hard work and skill, may seem easier than ever,” said Yalda Uhls, a UCLA doctoral student in developmental psychology and lead author of this study. “”When being famous and rich is much more important than being kind to others, what will happen to kids as they form their values and their identities?"

The study found that one of the main reasons for a decline in traditional values is the shift of values among characters on popular television shows during the past 50 years, from  "The Andy Griffith Show" and "The Lucy Show" to "American Idol" and "Hannah Montana."

The authors say the newest television shows, which often tend to promote celebrity lifestyles, target a younger, more impressionable set of viewers. With the increase in exposure made possible through the Internet with YouTube, Facebook and other sites, tweens feel they can be famous while accessing a virtual audience of friends and strangers.

Clinical psychologist Joanna Lipari says television shows from every decade have always idealized the life they portray and tweens across the millennia have shared the idea of wanting to be famous.   "Social media has now provided kids a way to take a stab at fame,” she says.

According to a 2010 study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, kids 8 to 10 years old spend close to eight hours a day using the media. Tweens' lives are saturated with onscreen content. The minute they turn off their television sets, they go on to a multitude of online communities, from video game sites to fan clubs, surrounding their favorite stars, say Greenfield and Uhls.

“There is no doubt we are living in the cult of celebrity,” says Lipari.  The idea, she says, is “that being famous is a ticket to a better life.”   Tweens are at a point where they have no money and no power, and are simply trying to develop their identity, Lipari explains. To them, watching stars live in the limelight, looks ideal.

Lipari says there is nothing wrong with children having big dreams of being rich and famous; they just need guidance to understand there is a process that includes hard work in order to get there.

Parents should talk with their children about the television shows they watch, Greenfield and  Uhls advise. "But it's impossible for most parents to consume the amount of media their children consume," Uhls adds.

“Friends, family and community need to know how to shape these children, as opposed to shaking their heads and saying we’ve lost a generation,”says Lipari.

soundoff (107 Responses)
  1. joker831

    Parents: Teach your children about REALITY. They are NEVER too young to learn about life as it actually is. Yes, support their dreams. Yes, tell them to be all that they can be. Yes, tell them that anything is possible if they work hard at it. Supporting unrealistic dreams is totally irresonsible parenting and if your children fail it is because of you. Because you did not do your job as a parent. This is were 99% of all problems lie. It always begins with the parents.

    August 5, 2011 at 17:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Bonita

    Train kids to respect God, obey the proper human authorities, fight bullies with wisdom and courage, desire to excel in order to help mankind, and to refuse addiction.

    August 6, 2011 at 01:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Nyan cat

    Nyan nyan nyan nyan nyan, nyan nyan nyan.

    August 6, 2011 at 09:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. KristaStone

    http://www.facebook.com/TeensMakingADifference Why not report something good about teens/tweens like these INCREDIBLE young ladies! Check out their page on FaceBook @ the link above! It is SOOOOO refreshing to see young people "making a difference in the lives of others". A far cry from the "self absorbed" lost children....

    August 6, 2011 at 10:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alioune

      mlisle,The primary way bike boxes help in other ctieis is that they give bicycles time to clear the intersection and get to where the bike lane starts (helps novice cyclists feel more comfortable and improves overall traffic flow). This is only relevant if the bike lane is not continuous i.e. in the OLD design on Speedway, the bike lane started up again southbound a hundred or two feet south of the intersection once you were past the start of the left turn lane.The right turn help would be a valid argument except cyclists have been going all the way to the intersection before and after the change (in fact, I have yet to see a cyclist move left into the actual bike box; they're still doing exactly what they did before lining up on the far right as far forward as possible).

      November 14, 2012 at 06:36 | Report abuse |
  5. Rox

    I technically grew up in this technologically-driven generation but I was raised by older parents (my dad was born during the Great Depression, just to give you an idea). I didn't have internet access until I was a junior in high school, I only got a cell phone when I became active in sports (and no texting until college), and I didn't have an iPod until I got my first full-time job. I have peers that are glued to their Facebook pages, but I have lost my taste for it. I miss human interaction; I miss hour-long phone calls instead of 20-minute text conversations. I'm going to have to go find a boyfriend who prefers talking over texting (men over 35, I'm looking at you).

    I see my sister's son, who is constantly glued to Facebook and video chatting with girls he doesn't know. He's 13 and spells like an 8-year-old!! He also idolizes the cast of the Jersey Shore and aspires toward that. Why? Because my sister let it go unchecked. The reason kids aspire to be reality TV stars is because no one bothered to tell them that there are better things to be in the world. Someone mentioned that on "I Love Lucy" Lucy wanted to be famous, much like the stars of TV shows today. The only difference between then and now is that parents (like mine) encouraged us to work hard to get what we want and took an active interest in our lives. Even if they don't understand it, my parents will listen with full attention. Nowadays parents (like my sister) tune out just as bad as their children, texting at the table while their children Facebook chat with strangers. The only way to fix this is on the parents, not on the media. Although the media needs to watch what is targeted toward children. I wonder about some of the shows my nieces watch.

    August 19, 2011 at 17:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • David

      I have to say i agree with. you now i admit i am in the group of teens that would love fame, but i wold rather be in a legit TV show or in a movie. As to why i take acting classes. I cant stand those guidos and wonder why people watch that show; tough i also dislike most all reality shows (including the ones about those already famous). Personally i think acting should be restricted to those who gain joy from entertaining others, whether it is by knowing that someone else enjoyed it or being exhilarated for performing in the first place. Never should some one be on TV just for money or fame, they should be perks not the initial reason why.

      August 21, 2011 at 02:58 | Report abuse |
  6. Arya

    *sighs* And this is supposed to be our future. The final dregs, if there are any left, of my faith in humanity has left. It's fine by me if people want to be famous, I wouldn't say no to it myself, but you need to do the work to get there and I just don't see that happening. They want this, but are they willing to work to get there?

    For me? A teenager myself? I don't necessarily want fame by being an actress. Why? Because those actors and actresses fade with time. In a couple hundred years they will not be remembered. What I want is to be remembered and I don't know how I'll get there, but I will. Somehow, I will.

    August 21, 2011 at 07:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Blaster

    Why does this news report seem to assume declining traditional values is bad?

    August 21, 2011 at 22:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Hamilton Wentworth

    These were very good comments on this subject matter. Outstanding in fact. The compassion is interwoven through everyone here.

    October 27, 2011 at 12:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Burt Walto

    Can't agree more with this article totally usefull information and straight to the point, congrats to the author

    March 5, 2012 at 12:06 | Report abuse | Reply
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