Do Tweens See Fame as a Positive Value Worth Pursuing?

When I think of “values” – a.k.a. those beliefs that matter most to us – I think of my own personal core values…things like compassion, joy, honesty, authenticity, respect. But a recent article on CNN about a study published in the Journal of Psychology Research on Cyberspace found that TV shows most popular with kids ages 9-11 hold “fame” as their number one value. (Hannah Montana, see left, being one of them.) According to the study, this emphasis on fame indicates a major shift: in 1997, the number one value promoted in shows watched by 9-11 year olds was “community feeling,” or the idea of being part of a community, while fame came in 15th out of 16 different values. Today, the roles are reversed: fame is number one and community feeling has dropped to 11th.

Does consuming TV shows that promote fame as the top value have any real impact on young viewers? The researchers behind this study think so. Since fame as an ambition is fairly unrealistic and isn’t tied to academic achievement, some believe tweens could have less motivation to succeed in school which may impact them negatively in the future.

When I was a young girl, I loved to sing. (Okay…I still do). I remember watching Star Search with host Ed McMahon (yes, dating myself) and wishing that could be me up on that stage singing her head off. I dreamed of being on Broadway, of performing…of fame. And it makes complete sense…I grew up at a time when the movie FAME (the original one!) was the “it” movie. I dreamed of going to the High School of Performing Arts and being a struggling singer / actor in the Big Apple. For me, fame was something I dreamed of, just like I dreamed of being an animal conservationist and living with Giant Pandas in China or bicycling across the country or becoming a hot-shot news producer like Holly Hunter’s character in the movie Broadcast News. But I wouldn’t have identified “fame” as a “value” of mine. My values centered around my desire to be a good friend, to help others, and to laugh as much as possible.

Of course, that was before reality TV took over and becoming “famous” for doing very little other than appearing on a reality show became an actual possibility. And there’s no denying that these days being famous just for the sake of it has become a top “career choice” for many girls. Thousands of girls aspire to be a “celebrity” so they can live the glammed up lifestyle we see portrayed in the media…red-carpet premieres, Hollywood parties, the latest in fashion, entourages, invitations, wealth.

The problem is, just like everything in life, things aren’t always what they appear – being a celebrity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Don’t believe me? How would you like it if…

  • there were photographers camping out outside your house 24 hours a day?
  • every little thing you did (the good and the bad) was gossiped about on TV, on blogs, and in magazines
  • the word “privacy” was no longer a part of your vocabulary
  • people wanted to be your friend for all the wrong reasons
  • you constantly had to beware of people trying to steal your money and take advantage of you
  • your physical appearance – from your hair color and shoes to your weight and complexion – was constantly being scrutinized
  • one wrong career move could mean the end of your lifestyle as you know it
  • people expect you to be a perfect role model, when really, you’re only human

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard enough time dealing with my own insecurities and bad-hair days without reading about them in US Weekly.

Pursuing a life of fame and celebrity in the hopes of achieving a lifestyle that we see on MTV Movie Awards pre-show is kind of like chasing a phantom. Because the life that we see from the outside doesn’t exist.

My recommendation? Don’t think about your career goals in terms of what you want to have. Think of them in terms of what you want to learn…how you want to grow…what kind of a positive impact you want to make in the world. Hone in on the core values that go beneath the surface and resonate with how you can be your best self every day. If you can reach these goals, then you really will have it all.


  1. SamanthaPink Said,

    August 16, 2011 @ 7:44 am

    I definitely agree with you. A lot of girls (and people in general) just don’t realize all the cons of becoming a celebrity. All we notice is the glam lifestyle. What we don’t think about is the loss of the privacy, the scrutiny, and the escalated levels of stress. Being a celebrity isn’t all it’s hyped up to be.

  2. New Moon Girls Said,

    August 20, 2011 @ 8:15 am

    This is a great reality check. It’s easy to assume fame would be awesome. This is the kind of message we want to share with our girls – to focus on growing as a person, not making money and having things.

  3. Roze Said,

    September 30, 2011 @ 2:28 pm

    This is a really sad thing to hear. What is the world coming to?

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