Did your child beg you for permission to attend the Tomorrow X Together concert, or cry over unsuccessful attempts at getting tickets to Taylor Swift’s only stop in Southeast Asia?
Queueing overnight at the post office for concert tickets. Hours spent “camping” on several devices on the day of concert ticket sales. Buying numerous music albums, merchandise and products endorsed by one’s favourite celebrity.
“What’s the big deal about [insert name of singer/band]?” you may ask.
The extent that people would go—just for a chance to see their favourite celebrities and show support—reveal the depth of emotional investment one has in them. Understandably, you may be concerned about your children getting caught up in chasing stars and singers.
Unhealthy obsession, moral values held by the celebrity in question, body image issues, distraction from studies – all these can be worrying.
But what if having a celebrity to look up to isn’t all that bad? How can we guide our teens to navigate the celebrity craze in a healthy manner?
The bright side
As a young adult who spent her teenage years being invested in Taylor Swift and The Hunger Games franchise, and has developed a deep appreciation and love for Korean entertainment (I happen to stan/be a fan of the best K-pop group ever), I would like to humbly suggest that good can actually come out of these seemingly frivolous pursuits.
For starters, most—if not all—of the celebrities we know have worked hard to get to where they are, and continue to put in lots of time and effort to do what they love and remain in the game.
K-pop idols don’t become stars overnight. They start off as trainees who are put through gruelling training and intense competition, spending years of their youth going through hours of dance, vocal, acting and even language classes every day. They practise for extended hours to prepare for monthly evaluations, where they get graded and ranked for their performance.
Many audition to be trainees, some undergo training, but only a handful of them debut – and that’s when the real work starts.
Tight and long schedules filled with promotional activities, photo and video shoots, performances, ongoing dance and vocal practices – K-pop idols continue to work hard to make a name for themselves. Part of the process also involves discovering one’s style as they grow as creatives.
Other than K-pop artistes, actors, singers and social media influencers also put in many unseen efforts and hours to be where they are and keep improving.
Seeing the blood, sweat and tears poured into one’s craft can motivate young people to also work hard in the things they do and strive to be better. Some of these celebrities also demonstrate humility and a work ethic worth learning from.
While I am not into acting, singing or dancing (I wish I could dance well), the drive, dedication and discipline of the K-pop groups I love inspire me in my sporting pursuits, motivating me to push hard and to become a better version of myself.
Seeing the blood, sweat and tears poured into one’s craft can motivate young people to also work hard in the things they do and strive to be better.
The talents and passions that celebrities have can inspire young people to try new things like acting, singing and different genres of dance.
I know of many people who picked up dance because of K-pop, realise they have a flair for it and branch out to explore other genres of dance. In particular, one of my friends who used to get bullied in school for being overweight, picked up K-pop choreography out of interest and not only lost weight, but also discovered a hobby that she continues to enjoy as a young adult. This greatly restored her confidence and self-esteem.
Having opportunities to discover interests outside of academics helps teens develop holistically, grow in their self-esteem, and can boost their mental wellbeing. In the process of exploring what one enjoys and/or is good at, young people may also unearth dreams.
Having spent a good deal of my teenage years following British and American YouTube content creators, I developed an interest in producing videos – a skill that I use in my job, and a hobby that brings me joy. Making my own videos has also helped me to appreciate creative content a lot more, and I continue to find ways to improve my skillsets.
Having opportunities to discover interests outside of academics helps teens develop holistically, grow in their self-esteem, and can boost their mental wellbeing.
Following celebrities from other countries has given me the chance to learn about other cultures and get a glimpse of what life is like around the world. It has also broadened my outlook on life as I hear perspectives I wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to in my usual social circles. I have grown to appreciate different cultures and my own, develop empathy and a curious mindset when meeting different people.
The thought of your children being exposed to values and perspectives that you may not want them to adopt can be scary. Yet at the same time, we need to recognise that children can’t and won’t always be shielded from external influences.
Allowing room for them to chase celebrities and putting measures in place is a delicate balance that every parent-child pair can navigate through. You can help your teen remain grounded through ongoing open conversations and intentionally passing down values through word and action.
Having a celebrity they look up to can mean a lot to your teen. On our part as caring adults, we can first build a bridge by showing an interest in what they love.
Here are some questions to kickstart conversations with your kids about their favourite actor/singer/band:
1. What do you like about them?
2. What do you know about their life story/band history?
3. What are some of your favourite shows/movies/songs they have created?
4. In what ways do they inspire you? What are some positive traits you can learn from them?
5. Are there any social causes they are passionate about?
6. Are there any values/behaviours you don’t agree with?
Even as a young adult, it gets me excited when my dad shows me news about Blackpink, or when my mum listens to me talk about how pretty and talented they are.
At the same time, I am wary of the dangers and downsides idol-chasing can bring – especially when it is taken to an extreme, such as stealing money to attend a concert, or exhibiting disordered eating behaviours.
As adults, let’s keep the conversation open so we can guide the young and equip them with principles to help them navigate fan culture in a healthy manner.
This article was written by Faith Wong, a gen-Zer who loves gymming, K-pop bands, and coffee.
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