Celebrity worship may play an important part of growing up, suggest the results of a UK study.
Star-struck teens are generally emotionally well-adjusted and popular, with their celebrity interests forming a healthy part of adolescent development and bonding, say psychologists from the Universities of Leicester and Coventry.
However, those with extreme celebrity fascination, are likely to be lonely children without close attachments to friends or family, suggests the new study.
John Maltby and David Giles surveyed 191 English schoolchildren between the ages of 11 and 16. They found that those who avidly followed celebrities’ lives were the most popular.
For about 30 per cent of the children, gossiping about favourite celebrities with their peer group took up much of their social time. These children were found to have a particularly strong and close network of friends and to have created a healthy emotional distance from their parents.
“As children grow up, they start to transfer their attachment from parents to their peers. Celebrities start to take on the hero status role that their parents formerly fulfilled when the children were younger and it seems to be a healthy part of development,” explains Maltby, who led the study.
“The main function of celebrity attachments in adolescence may be as an extended social network – a group of ‘pseudo-friends’ who form the subject of peer gossip and discussion,” he told New Scientist. “The ongoing subject of celebrities’ lives can provide a valuable bonding tool among their friends, while enabling them to be emotionally autonomous from their parents.”
Here is the full story. And don’t forget my book on fame, which views the production of celebrity as one of the most beneficial aspects of modern popular culture. Not only do stars give us focal points for social orientation, but we gain by paying them with fame rather than having to part with more money.