Friday, February 09, 2007

Thank You, Newsweek

The impact of celeb party girls Paris, Brit, and Lindsay on the mental and social development of ‘tweens and teens has been a longtime concern of mine. What kind of influence are these obviously misguided young women having on young females? And how much should we be concerned about it?

I just finished reading Newsweek’s exceptional cover article “Girls Gone Bad”, which looks in-depth at the how the stumblings and bumblings of the “Brit Pack” are affecting our young women. Are they viewed as idols to worship? Or are they seen for what they really are - mere tabloid fodder - even to those more impressionable minds?

The result, surprisingly, is a number of positive statistics and insights from experts. Thanks, Newsweek, for taking on this subject. Instead of the “doom and gloom” outlook I expected, there are a lot of ways this country’s young women are heading in the right direction, despite the glaringly bad influences seen in the media on a daily basis.

Here are a few key points the article made and a couple of quotes I thought were eye-opening:

- A Newsweek poll found that 77 percent of Americans believe that Britney, Paris and Lindsay have too much influence on young girls.

- Experts say attentive parents, strong teachers and nice friends are an excellent counterbalance to our increasingly sleazy culture. (Yes!)

- It's a great time to be a girl: women are excelling more than ever in sports, academics and in the job market.

- While celebrity idols stumble in and out of rehab, the rates of drinking, smoking and overall drug use among teenage girls have declined in recent years, says the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.

- "It creates a general sense that life is about being crazy, being kooky, having fun...," says Christian Smith, professor of sociology at Notre Dame. But the really insidious consequence is that teenagers often consider themselves immune to these influences. "They don't have enough perspective on how they are being formed by the world around them—and when they don't realize it, it can be more powerful," he says.


Some things to keep in mind the next time we see one of them in the media for some some ridiculous antics or publicity stunt. Let's hope Newsweek is right....

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