Will teens stop at nothing to be famous?
Yesterday, we showed you disturbing video of a Florida cheerleader being beaten and assaulted by six of her peers. Her attackers documented the beating, allegedly with intentions of posting the video on the Internet. (Warning: This video contains graphic violence.)
Is this an example of teens' intense desire for fame going to a new and horrific level? We called friend of Mom•Logic and family therapist Shannon Fox for insight.
"Thanks to reality TV, there's this accessibility to fame that didn't exist in the past," she explains. "With the advent of MySpace and YouTube, fame really is just a click away."
Dr. Fox says when you ask teens what they want to be when they grow up, they don't list a profession like teacher or firefighter. Instead, they say they want to be famous. That's it.
Countless studies have been done on this phenomenon, and the results are always the same: Teens value fame over money, family, or even happiness.
Why? "Teens are feeling somewhat invisible these days," Dr. Fox says. "They don't get noticed by their peers for getting good grades. The easiest way to get attention from their friends and classmates is to be famous."
And for kids in junior high or high school, putting a video on YouTube or MySpace is the fastest way to gain notoriety. "They put a video online, and seconds later get fan mail flooding their in-box or MySpace page," Dr. Fox says. "It's instant gratification."
Teens will even put themselves in harm's way doing Jackass-style stunts on tape to get noticed. So what if they land in the hospital? Or get arrested for beating someone up on YouTube? According to Dr. Fox, "The consequences--no matter how severe--are so much less meaningful than the fame," she says.
"For teens, it doesn't matter if they are famous or infamous--as long as fame is in the title, they are all for it."
Yesterday's video isn't the only one we need to talk about with our kids. Click below to see what your kids could be witnessing at school and online. (Warning: These videos contain graphic violence.)
Tomorrow on ML: How to talk to your kids about violent online videos.