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Just Being “Famous” Most Reinforced Value on Kid’s TV

 The Parents Television Council has closely monitored the impact of pop culture programming like Hannah Montana on kids values and says the things that used to be important have fallen away and a troubling new narcissism has risen with its attending negative impact our culture.

Disney Channel Games 2007 - All Star Party
Gerardo Mora/Getty Images

UCLA researchers have released the results of a new study showing that modern television programs, those most popular among kids ages 9-11, are sending the message that fame should be a number one value. On a list of sixteen values, fame jumped from 15th spot in 1997 to 1st in 2007. 

The study notes that “Happy Days” and “The Andy Griffith Show” focused on values such as benevolence, self-acceptance and tradition. Flash forward: Fame has shot to the top of the list whether you’re talking about “American Idol” or “Hannah Montana,” and those same shows are giving narcissism the stamp of approval.

Researchers reviewed the values of characters in popular television shows for 9- to 11-year-olds, from 1967 to 2007.  The shows were evaluated for 16 values, including community feeling (being part of a group), spiritualism, tradition and popularity. Although community feeling was the No. 1 value in 1967, 1977 and 1997, by 2007, it had fallen to No. 11. In 2007, the top five values were fame, achievement, popularity, image and financial success.

The biggest change occurred from 1997 to 2007, when YouTube, Facebook and Twitter exploded in popularity.  The shifting values in TV shows convey messages to children about what’s important in society.

The study is detailed in the July issue of Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace.

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