They’re called “super peers” for good reason. Media, including music, television and the Internet, can have a strong influence on today’s kids. If you’re wondering just how influential celebrity role models are on your kids and teens, tune in to what your kids see and hear – then take a look at your kids and see if it looks and sounds familiar.
1. Identity Formation
Kids and teens are more vulnerable to the effects of celebrity role models than adults, because youngsters haven’t finished forming their identities, states the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. Because your son is likely still experimenting with his style, he’s probably eager to see and watch a variety of different people as he looks for styles he can emulate. Kids also have more likelihood of skipping over any logical thoughts or concerns as they are looking to celebrity peers for style ideas. This means that even if they see a negative example, they might rationalize it in their minds so that it seems cool.
2. Media Representations
The media has a way of normalizing the scenes from television, movies and music as they appear to kids and teens. As dangerous as substance abuse can be, a teen might minimize this danger when he sees a favorite celebrity having fun doing drugs in a favorite movie, especially if the favorite celeb is involved in the scenes.
3. Celebrity Experiences
Watching celebrities from the outside as they live the high life, engage in risk-taking behaviors and spend recklessly in the pursuit of happiness, can entice kids and teens to emulate this lifestyle, warns “Addiction Treatment Magazine.” Sometimes celebrities seem untouched by realities and appear to skate by unscathed by the consequences of their behavior. Eventually, however, a celebrity who is making serious mistakes in judgment will face consequences. With kids watching, the way a celeb handles the consequences can have a major impact on how the child perceives the mistake.
4. Positive and Negative
Celebrities can have both positive and negative effects on kids, depending on their behaviors and actions, states Common Sense Media on its website. For example, a celebrity who engages in relief efforts for people in a natural disaster or who donates time and energy to help specific causes can serve as a positive role model of altruistic behavior. Celebrities who drink, smoke or who have substance abuse problems can, through negative example, impact kids in a very negative way. A celebrity who struggles with an addiction, but battles and overcomes it, can be a very positive role model.
Stay aware of the impact of celebrities on your child and communicate regularly about this strong influence. For example, when you see or hear of a celebrity’s latest mistake or rude statement to the press, you might talk about it with your child to reinforce your personal opinions and values in contrast to the celebrity’s example. If you see a positive example, call this out for your child to notice, too. Highlight the good things and dissect the negative things to make everything a teachable moment.
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