More than 90 percent of children regularly follow influencers — social media celebrities — and nearly 30 percent said that they imitate those stars’ behavior and speech, a survey published on Sunday by the Child Welfare League Foundation said.
The survey, which interviewed 1,789 children aged 11 to 17, found that three in every four children — or 76.7 percent of the respondents — said they “worship” one or more celebrities.
The majority of their favorite idols, or 52.4 percent, are singers, 49.9 percent are considered social media stars and 33.6 percent are members of pop groups, the survey said.
The data, in which the categories overlapped, showed that 27.9 percent are actors and 16.2 percent athletes.
Of the respondents, 90.5 percent said that they “follow” influencers on social media; 31.5 percent said they were following more than 10 and 14.3 percent said they follow more than 20 influencers.
Fifty-nine percent of respondents said that they liked celebrities for their talents, the survey said.
Other reasons included “a good sense of humor,” which 52.6 percent mentioned, good looks, at 50.9 percent, and a good public image, at 45 percent.
Regarding the content, 50 percent of the accounts children followed had an entertainment focus, while 43.6 focused on food and 27.5 percent on knowledge. Video games, music and beauty accounted for 14.8 percent, 5.7 percent and 5.5 percent respectively.
Celebrity worship can have positive and negative effects on children, the survey said.
Twenty-nine percent of respondents said they had imitated a celebrity’s behavior or way of talking; 33 percent said they had experienced negative emotions due to unfavorable reports about a beloved celebrity and 38.7 percent said they had been distracted from important tasks because they could not stop thinking about their idol.
Moreover, 20.5 percent said they would “lose all lust for life” if they lost their favorite celebrity and 9.5 percent said they might “perform illegal acts” if their favorite influencer requested it.
However, 58.2 percent of respondents said celebrity worship helps them reduce stress and 38.7 percent said they believed it had helped them acquire new skills and knowledge, the survey said, adding that 65.9 percent said it provided topics for conversation with peers.
Asked about their parents’ attitude toward their fandom, 46.2 percent said their parents did not know about it; 30.9 percent said their parents knew and did not support it; and 22.9 percent said their parents knew and were supportive, the survey showed.
“Children’s worship of influencers — unlike that of traditional celebrities — is more difficult for parents to notice,” foundation executive secretary Huang Yun-shan (黃韻璇) said.
“The public image and quality of Internet stars can vary greatly,” she said. “Some are willing to break the law or venture into morally ambiguous realms to drive traffic. Children might also imitate bad behavior or be affected in other negative ways.”
Parents should learn about the celebrities their children admire to improve the family relationship and prevent children from imitating improper behavior, Huang said, adding that children whose parents support their fandom have been found to be happier and less stressed.
The survey was conducted from May 21 to June 15. It had a confidence level of 99 percent and a margin of error of 3.05 percentage points.
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