Generation Z once idolized Disney stars, but where can today’s kids look for role models? PHOTO CREDIT: imbd.com
Generation Z grew up in a time where technology and social media was on the rise and evolving. We were young when YouTube was created in 2005, when Apple came out with the first iPod and when Disney Channel was producing stars left and right.
Nowadays, that just isn’t the case. Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services are more popular than network television, and the kids shows on there don’t give young children, and young girls in particular, real role models to look up to, as our generation did with Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato and more.
I know that when I was younger, I wanted to be Hannah Montana. Miley Cyrus was the first person that I idolized. She was clean-cut, family friendly and someone that helped shape an entire generation of girls (before her “Wrecking Ball” phase, of course).
After spending my summer babysitting two girls, ages 8 and 11, I noticed that they have nothing like that. When I would ask them what their favorite show was, they would shrug and say that they watch more YouTube than they do TV.
So, I was excited. YouTube was my life in middle school, and YouTubers like Bethany Mota, Meredith Foster, Brooklyn and Bailey and Niki and Gabi were my virtual older sisters. They taught me how to do my makeup, use feminine products and talk to boys.
However, the YouTube videos that they would watch were all “challenge” videos that were based on views and likes. Clickbait was all the videos were about. They don’t teach kids anything. One video concept was that each person in the group would post a selfie on Instagram. Whoever got the least amount of likes got food thrown on them.
Those videos are essentially teaching young girls that likes and views are the most important things in life. They have no educational value, they don’t provide any advice, they just focus on social media. That is extremely detrimental to the minds of young girls. Social media already affects mental health enough, and encouraging this behavior is, in my opinion, a recipe for disaster.
Another thing that was essential to me growing up were my celebrity crushes. I think we all had a crush on Zac Efron in “High School Musical” or Harry Styles in One Direction or Justin Bieber. Having an obsession with a celebrity builds character in my opinion— it’s a rite of passage.
Once again, kids nowadays don’t have any major celebrities focused toward their age group the way that we did. The only person that I can think of is JoJo Siwa, and still, she is geared towards kids that are younger than middle school.
Now the question is, how will this affect children as they grow into adulthood? It made me sad to see those who are children now don’t have the same experiences that we did. Our society nowadays cancels people at the drop of a hat before they even get a chance to be something great.
Sure, kids have role models such as their parents, maybe older siblings, cousins, etc. However, having famous people, whether they’re A-list celebrities or YouTubers, to idolize and look up to helps young girls grow and teaches them things beyond how to apply mascara.
Overall, I’m disappointed in our society that today, kids don’t have the same experiences as Generation Z did due to cancel culture and other toxic parts of social media. I know how much of an effect my celebrity role models had on the person I am today, and it makes me sad knowing that girls younger than me won’t have the same experience.