The evolution of role models

The evolution of role models

About 30 years ago, people wanted to be great, respectable figures of society. They wanted to be a prime minister. In the 90s that changed a little bit. Shah Rukh Khan, Sachin Tendulkar, the Backstreet Boys and even the Spice Girls became role models. It had indeed strayed from the normal and achievable path but not completely unattainable.

unrealistic Children's role models have changed over the years.After all, if the little Daniel Radcliffe could become the world-famous Harry Potter, what stopped others from having the same fate!

But as times have changed and children aren’t as innocent as they used to be, their role models too have changed. They have become more fantastic and for practical purposes, impossible.

Siblings Varuni and Vikram Rao are exactly those sort of adolescents. While Varuni, 13, wants to be a ‘good’ Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean, her younger brother, Vikram was a bit more focused on saving the world. He said he wanted to be the Iron Man. “I really want to have my own lab with robots and have a suit with which I can save the universe and do anything,” he says.

The advent of the internet too has contributed towards making those between the age of five and late teens, undoubtedly more aware and exposed. However, the quality of information and content they are exposed to leaves much to be desired.  Sonali Nikhil, mother of 4-year-old Ishaan, says that although she’s very particular about what her son is watching, most mums leave their kids to their own antics with the TV remote. “Kids are exposed to sometimes inappropriate things causing their imagination to run wild. There’s just no stopping a child’s mind. And though it is innocent and harmless while they’re young, wanting to be unreal and outlandish adults like Jack Sparrow isn’t very good for the child in the long run. A rum-drinking, thieving and flirty pirate is hardly the best role model, no matter how charming the character is,” comments Sonali.

Vitradika Rajan, a counsellor, says that if the desire to be something outrageous is outgrown then it isn’t harmful. “What is worrying however, is that youngsters are lured by quick money and fame. They’re taken in by this celebrity status which leads them to believe that even the impossible is possible.”

She also suggested that because of technology, people have become more lazy and the idea of becoming famous by actually working is alien to the new generation. “For teenagers, being in the limelight no matter what, is more appealing than being a doctor saving lives,” she laments.

The reason children earlier wanted to be teachers, doctors, nurses and pilots was because they came across these people face to face. This made the source of inspiration for the children’s future more tangible and realistic.

Mediaperson Kiran A is also of the opinion that superheroes and film characters have become so convincing that kids are bound to find the characters more appealing than their paediatrician or teacher! “Kids are living in a make-believe world for longer periods than before. It’s like a virtual reality with all these video games. So in a way, they’re not actually more exposed but are exposed to different things. Unfortunately and very misleadingly, makes them believe that this fantasy world and lifestyle does exist,” she points out.

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