The Value of Fame: Preadolescent Perceptions of Popular Media and Their Relationship to Future Aspirations

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Abstract

In line with Greenfield's (2009) theory of social change and human development, current popular preadolescent TV shows suggest that fame, an individualistic goal, is an important and achievable aspiration (Uhls & Greenfield, 2011). Such messages may be particularly salient for preadolescents, ages 10–12. This study used focus groups and mixed analytic methods (qualitative and quantitative) to examine how popular media, passive and interactive, are interpreted by preadolescents and how their interpretations relate to their media practices and future goals. Quantitative analysis revealed that fame was the number one value, selected as the most important value for participants' future goals significantly more frequently than expected by chance. Qualitative analysis of focus group discourse suggested that (a) youth absorb messages in their media environment regarding fame as a future goal and (b) their interpretations of these messages highlight the importance and value of public recognition. Enacting the value of fame, the majority of preadolescent participants use online video sharing sites (e.g., YouTube) to seek an audience beyond their immediate community.

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