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Innocent Children Soaking Up Celebrity Culture Just Like Jaded Adults
NYT reveals tween tabloid readers for who they really are

May 29th, 2007

How does a hard-hitting newspaper like the New York Times get its feet wet in celebrity spectacles when it’s supposed to remain a high-brow publication (post-Britney Spears’ front page story)? By talking about the impact of celebrities and the tabloids that cover them, of course.

That’s why Stephanie Rosenbloom is all atwitter over young girls reading In Touch and Star, who are as knowledgeable about Paris Hilton’s DUI as they are about right triangles.

Writes the Times‘ Rosenbloom:

In interviews, tweens tend to be highly judgmental of the much-publicized antics, turning them into age-appropriate morality tales that would make their parents proud and bring comfort to those who fear the next generation will be made up of pantyless party girls known more for their D.W.I.s than their G.P.A.s.

Ms. Hilton, said Jamie Barton, 10, of Mobile, Ala.: ???spends all this time acting like everyone else doesn???t mean anything. It???s just me, me, me.???

Said Diamond Martin, 12, of Parlin, N.J.: ???I don???t see her as a role model. I???m not sure what she???s really ever done, actually.???

That tweens are not traipsing after the drunken pied pipers who erupt in the gossip headlines is not surprising to child behavior experts.

???I would be shocked if they did,??? said Dr. Ritch C. Savin-Williams, a professor and chairman of the human development department at Cornell University. After all, he said, 8- to 12-year-olds are by and large ???really heavily under the influence of their parents.???

Good to know all this celebrity worshipping by America’s youth hasn’t changed the fundamental tangibles about children: they’re snide and quick to form opinions, and not very likely to get behind the wheel of a car after a late-night bender. Thanks, New York Times!

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