Teens tend to turn to the most popular celebrities for guidance in their day-to-day lives. Because celebrities are not only envied by our society but their images are splashed across magazines, social media, television, and movies, it is natural for teens to use them as role models. While some celebrities are a positive influence on teens, others are viewed as a negative influence.
Perhaps the most obvious ways in which celebrities influence teen are:
• Physical appearance— too skinny with fake body parts?
• Clothing style and brand endorsement—to revealing?
• Behaviour misconduct—drinking and driving?
• Low self-esteem and disturbed body image—how to live up to the ideal body image?
• Modeling of drinking and drug use—in movies and in real life?
With such a heavy and widespread sway on teens, what can you as a parent do to counteract the influence celebrities have over teens?
While you cannot completely control what your teens are exposed to, you can control what you teach them at home. Do not underestimate the power and influence you have on your children.
1. Family Values: Do you discuss your family values with your kids? When you teach teens what is important, their behaviour is less likely to be influenced by others’ values and more likely to be influenced by your own. Speak about the family values as you have day-to-day discussions.
2. Family time: Do you schedule regular family mealtimes, hangout times, or movie times? Hanging out with your teens allows them to bond with you, to respect you, and to listen to you more. The more time parents spend with teens the less likely they are to be involved in crime, develop an eating disorder, or to be influenced by others.
3. Family Communication: Do you communicate? Do you speak to your kids about how people in general are influenced by the media? It also helps to, non-judgmentally, point out how celebrities’ actions or behaviours are impacting their own lives. The more you talk about what they see on TV, the more they will be aware how their behaviour is shaped by celebrity influence.
4. Set an Example: Do you set the example you want your kids to follow. Do your teens see you being influenced by the media? Are you behaving the way you want your kids to behave? Setting an example is more influential than asking your kids to do what you are not willing to do.
5. Role Model: Do you model healthy self-esteem and self-acceptance to you children? Do your teens see you worrying about your own weight, body image, or ability to succeed? How you feel about yourself will influence how your teens feel about themselves. Be sure to pay attention to your own behavioural patterns as you will see the same patterns in your children.
6. It’s Up To You: Don’t leave the parenting duties to the school, church, or community. It is up to you to instil good values in your children and to mould your children into the people you want them to become.
The biggest challenge to parenting is that parents don’t really know how well they are doing and won’t find out till years down the road. As a parent, you job is to be persistent in raising your kids according to your values, by setting a good example, being a good role model, and communicating with your kids regularly. Parents you are not powerless. Your good example, family communication, and your family values will plant seeds of success in your teens.
Worried your teen is negatively affected by celebrity role models? Contact Teen Life Coach in Toronto, Ivana Pejakovic, and find out what you can do to positively influence your teens.