Study: Thanks To TV, Kids Rank Fame Most Important Thing In Life

Well, this ain’t Mister Rogers Neighborhood! What are shows like Teen Mom, Jersey Shore, and The Real Housewives of New Jersey teaching America’s youth? (Besides how to make out with “grenades” while flipping a table and change a diaper….)

Why, how to be famous, of course!

According to study published in the Journal of Psychology Research on Cyberspace last month, children between the ages of 9 and 11 now hold “Fame” as their No. 1 value; the same value ranked 15th in a study compiled in 1997.

“Ron Howard can be very proud of himself. Before he was a film director, he played Opie Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show and Richie Cunningham on Happy Days. Researchers used both shows — as well as The Lucy Show and Laverne & Shirley — to compare with modern shows like American Idol and Hannah Montana,” writes. “They specifically wanted to study the values these shows promoted among 9- to 11-year-olds from 1967 to 2007. Researchers found the old shows exalted benevolence, self-acceptance, community and tradition, while modern shows stress fame as the No. 1 value.”

The article continues: “A sense of community was the No. 1 value back when Fonzie and the gang ruled the airwaves in the 1970s. By 2007, researchers found that value fell to No. 11. The top five values nowadays? Fame, achievement, popularity, image and financial success.”

Dr. Patricia Greenfield, a professor with the University of California-Los Angeles Department of Psychology and co-author of the study, has explanation for the phenomenon.

“Tweens are unrealistic about what they have to do to become famous. They may give up on actually preparing for careers and realistic goals,” she says. “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. When being famous and rich is much more important than being kind to others, what will happen to kids as they form their values and their identities?”

Need further proof that the power of television is here to stay? Thursday night’s premiere of Jersey Shore scored the biggest season debut ever for MTV, as 8.8 million total viewers tuned in to watch.

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