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From 'We' to 'Me': The Rise of Fame in Kids TV Programming and Pop Culture

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Researchers at UCLA Children’s Digital Media Center have conducted a study that looked at the most popular TV programming for kids 9 to twelve between 1967 and 2007 to look for changes in the values that the shows promote.

The results, for anyone who's watched TV lately, shouldn't be too shocking.

The authors conclusion? The study found that in the 1960's the the value of community and kindness were the primary message of programming for 9-11 year olds. In one decade, from 1997 to 2007, fame leapt from #15 to #1 in importance, out of a list of 16 values.

“Preteens are at the age when they want to be popular and liked just like the famous teenagers they see on TV and the Internet. 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.”

Before we start placing the blame at the feet of Hannah Montana, Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez or other tween stars, it should be noted that not a single tween was surveyed for this study. Instead, they interviewed adults who grew up during the particular decades included in the study.

Moreover, they also discuss--and this is important--how kids today are more attuned to values such as fame than kids in the 1970s and 1980s. The bottom line?

Parents need to do some co-watching of shows that are aimed at the pre-teen (and teen!) demographic to see what values are being conveyed. Talk to your kids. Ask them what they are thinking so you can help steer them toward more grounded and realistic outlook on life.

That's my two cents, what's yours?

You can read the entire study, The Rise of Fame: An Historical Content Analysis, in the Journal of CyberPsychology.


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