‘Toxic Fandom:’ When Your Child’s Celebrity Worship Goes Too Far

The following is excerpted from an online article posted by HealthDay.

It’s not new for young people to develop an interest in their favorite pop singer or actor, but it can be problematic if that adoration turns toxic.

It’s easier than ever to get lost in a celebrity’s carefully curated image via social media posts, according to Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, which offers some tips for when fandom goes too far.

“Artists may do things that encourage people to get to know them better, so when they start giving people a peek into their lives and creating a persona that their fans can emotionally invest in, they get more people interacting with their work and also gain prestige and make more money,” explained Dr. Laurel Williams, an associate professor in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Baylor.

Previously, fans had to spend money and time repeatedly to see a celebrity and then cultivate a connection that could turn obsessive — but in today’s internet age, celebrity channels are available online anytime.

Superficial connections are now more easily and frequently made, Williams cautioned, and adolescents are more susceptible to having addictive emotions over this.

“When someone starts ‘speaking their truth’ about a celebrity or topic in a way that dehumanizes others, either online or in person, that’s when you know there’s a problem,” Williams said in a Baylor news release. “People sometimes invest hundreds or thousands of hours into a celebrity only to be disappointed by the celebrity. In turn, their feelings can come out as anger towards others and sometimes even as self-harm.”

Online content is edited, designed and not real, Williams stressed.

Williams’ advice to fans: Don’t spend too much time on channels that are designed to constantly keep your attention. Use tools provided in phones or apps that limit the time you spend there.

Parents of adolescents should be curious about what their children are interested in and engage with the content if prompted, Williams said.

Source: HealthDay

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[reposted by] Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord culture blog also appears on Crosswalk.com and Religiontoday.com. Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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