Celebrities' Influence on Teens: The Good, The Bad And The In Between

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Celebrities' Influence on Teens: The Good, The Bad And The In Between

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In the growing world of pop culture, social media and celebrities, teenagers today are heavily influenced by their celebrity idol. But why does this happen? And is it beneficial or detrimental? Read on to find out. 


In a world where experiential learning and learning using the 5 senses (touch, hear, see, smell, taste) is heavily promoted, it is inherent for teens to learn by looking at someone they idolize. In fact, according to an article by The Telegraph,  1 in 4 teenagers are more influenced by celebrities than by people they know.

Moreover, the hormonal changes physically and mentally lead them to want to be something else, and their favorite celebrities are basically their standard for the same. However, there are also different advantages for various stakeholders of this issue, so one cannot put a blanket on the topic and answer it as ‘Yes, it is beneficial for teens to be influenced by celebrities’ or ‘No, it isn’t’. The question can be approached from both ways. 

On one hand, as we have already established, celebrities have a high hold on teens today. So, for a stakeholder such as businesses, using celebrity endorsements are a pivotal part of marketing strategies, especially if the target audience is mainly teenagers. This helps to promote their brand and persuades viewers to buy the product.

A study by Nielsen provides data that tells us that celebrity endorsements increase sales by about 4%, and consumers are 15% more likely to buy a product if it is promoted by a celebrity they trust or like a lot, especially in younger demographics.

The other stakeholder, which is the population of teenagers, can also be affected positively by celebrity influence. In the era of rebelling against adults, celebrities often stand as a pillar of moral code for teenagers. They are an example of hard work and perseverance, and show a growing mind that they can achieve anything they put their mind to. 

For example, Olivia Rodrigo, one of the hottest celebrities on the charts right now, shared in an interview by Us Weekly that she has been a Taylor Swift fan or “Swiftie” ever since she was 4 years old. She started singing covers by her and was inspired by her.

Moreover, she says that one reason that she had the confidence to put out her debut song ‘Drivers Licence’ at just 17 years old  was because Taylor inspired her. This shows that the inspiration by the right person can really take you big and also proves how heavily affected one can get by their favorite celebrities. 

However, there is a downside to everything. 59% of high school students today (boys and girls alike) have low self esteem, and after seeing celebrities around them- who are at a different life stage, have indulged in potentially dangerous activities to try and be more like them.

A survey conducted by the Do Something Organization revealed that  44% of girls in high schools are attempting to lose weight by methods such as starvation, and 38% of boys in middle school and high school reported using protein supplements and almost 6% admitted to using steroids .

As pop stars, actors and actresses have seemingly ‘perfect’ lives, teens crave the same kind of perfection, and this is deleterious for their physical and mental health. One major aspect of this is body image. Celebrities today are the standard of ‘beauty’ for teenage girls, and can set unrealistic expectations for a teen, because what is often overlooked is the fact that these celebrities have a really strict diet, and an even stricter workout regimen, something that is not healthy or recommended for a teenager. 

The effect on teenage boys is the same, except for them, the standard is being ‘ripped’, and having incredible muscular ability, which is near to impossible at their age and can have the opposite effect by breaking/weakening muscles instead. This can lead to many fatal consequences, including eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia, body dysmorphia, addiction to steroids, substance abuse etc.

An article by the UK's Mental Health Foundation shared that 40% of teens said that images on social media led them to worry about their body image, and 35% had stopped eating at some point or restricting their diet due to this fact. Moreover, a study by the National Library of Medicine found that out of 350 students, 42% had probable eating disorders and 41.7% had a social media addiction, surmising that students who spend time on social media looking at celebrities or models are more likely to have disordered eating habits. 

Then, there is the in between of the issue. Another surprising addition to the stakeholders today is political parties. Although this only affects teenagers between 18-19 years of age, who are allowed to vote, they are still a prevalent stakeholder.

With the rate of growth of celebrity influence and social media, it is affecting the politics of many countries, USA being the biggest. For example, Ronald Reagen acted in films such as The Bad Man, and proceeded to be elected as the governor of California, and later the president of the United States.

Recent news also brought forward the prospect of pop star Taylor Swift influencing her fans regarding supporting a political party over another. This can lay a very heavy weight on the elections, seeing the popularity and number of loyal supporters of the celebrity.

This can be seen as early as 2014, when Emma Watson (popular for her role as Hermione in the Harry Potter movies)  was appointed a UN Goodwill ambassador and launched the HeForShe campaign, encouraging women’s political participation. This is the ‘in-between’ as it is not categorized as good or bad, as it is purely determined on one’s personal beliefs. 

In conclusion, we know that celebrities play a prominent role in a teenagers upbringing and mindset today, and that the ship can steer towards the side of good, and inspirational, but can also lean towards harmful.

Also, we know that the world is not black and white, but in fact can also be morally gray, and that’s alright. It is up to our personal moral code or beliefs to determine whether some actions are good, bad, or if they can simply be left in the in between. 

Image courtesy: Photo by Stephen Mease on Unsplash