Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Social Not-working. Me me me!

What do you want to be when you grow up, little girl?
Rich and famous and thin and beautiful of course!
What about looking after other people?
No way! Why should I?


Social media is being blamed for its part in a dramatic change of moral values among teens and 'tweens' in the US.

A new study by psychologists at UCLA has shown that values such as being kind to others and community feeling, have been replaced by fame, and fortune among today's narcissistic kids.

The report points out that the availability of 24/7 media enables children to access the values put forward by television much more regularly than their parents can influence them.

As a result youngsters are more likely to align their ambitions with the standards of reality programmes such as American Idol, and the unrealistic success of teen star Hannah Montana.

There has been a dramatic change in the last decade, although another value, image, has been creeping up the scale for longer than that.

The UCLA team studied a list of values demonstrated in the most popular TV programmes every 10 years from 1967. Back in the days when everyone was watching The Lucy Show, the value at the top of the list was community feeling. By Hannah Montana's era in 2007 that had slid to 11th. In the same time fame shot from 15th to the top spot, with financial success following it in at number two.

One of the authors Yalda T. Uhls, a UCLA doctoral student in developmental psychology, said: "Even when parents are an active presence in their children's lives, peers and media go hand in hand, and peers can be more influential than parents.

"The biggest change occurred from 1997 to 2007, when YouTube, Facebook and Twitter exploded in popularity. Their growth parallels the rise in narcissism and the drop in empathy among college students in the United States, as other research has shown. We don't think this is a coincidence."

The report's other author was Patricia M. Greenfield, a UCLA distinguished professor of psychology and director of the Children's Digital Media Center at Los Angeles.

She said: "In the past, children had their home, community and school; now they have thousands of 'friends' who look at their photos and their posts and comment on them. The growth of social media gives children access to an audience beyond the school grounds.

"If you have 400 or more Facebook friends, which many high school and college students do, you are on stage. It's intrinsically narcissistic."

Social Not-working is an ongoing project that happens when I see reports like the one above. For more examples click here


snafu said...

Very interesting stuff, I have long thought that TV has a more detrimental effect than many people are prepared to acknowledge. The kind of morals demonstrated daily in soap operas has been steadily falling and children have grown up to adulthood watching actors play out the most appalling behaviour often deliberately causing suffering and misery to each other’s characters, all laced with really bad manners. Long ago, a popular soap writer once said that to keep an audience for a soap you had to make the characters suffer and suffer, or people stopped watching. This kind of gratuitous voyeurism cannot be healthy. I understand that growing older forces you to live in a world that you did not grow up in and do not find comfortable. Each generation finds the same thing, but I shudder to think what the present generation of teenagers will find to cause them discomfort when they are my age.

Jarmara Falconer said...

Scary... (0) What does the future hold for the rest of us when these children grow up, if they do grow up or do they think their parents will be looking after them all their lives?

Thank you for sharing this with us, AJ.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Anne .. times are changing that's for sure - everyone doesn't think of others .. it's strange .. and the next few generations are going to have a tricky communicative life.

I have to say - I just try and set examples .. but not having kids I'm not sure it gets noticed too much ..

Still it's important to do what we can .. and some of these younger generations will turn their thoughts and actions to higher things .. it's the masses - that I worry about and who don't think, are opinionated and have no idea ..

Well I'm off now - soap box kicked away .. you're so right though .. thank you - Hilary