Modern Day Role Models

When I was a little girl growing up in the 90s there were many positive role models. I remember cuddling in front of the TV to watch Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Sister, Sister. Melissa Joan Hart and Tia and Tamera Mowry were the kinds of girls I wanted to emulate. They were brave, smart, funny and caring, but not without their awkward or vulnerable moments like every young girl has to endure at one point or another in their life. The most important thing is that I could relate to them and learn lessons about growing up. This makes me disappointed when I look at the scarcity of positive role models on television for young girls and boys today.

Parents back in the 90’s did not have to worry too much about their children being exposed to a Disney child star turning into Miley Cyrus. I often wonder how “Hannah Montana” fans feel about Miley Cyrus now. If Cyrus “twerking” on a man her age was not shocking enough then maybe her recent onstage spat with Nicki Minaj at the MTV Movie Awards was. There were children that looked up to her as a role model and it must be difficult to read all the salacious news about her now. 

Today, the reality is very different than it was 10 or 15 years ago. This digital age of media has made it more accessible for kids to be caught up in the latest popular trends and celebrities. Back in the 90’s when shows like “Smart Guy”, “Captain Planet” and “Harriet the Spy” were about children trying to make a difference in their community, today we have “Toddlers in Tiaras” about self-entitled princesses. Who can forget “Honey Boo Boo?” I still can’t believe how popular that reality show was. Today we idolize anyone or anything that makes it into the first headlines of Entertainment Tonight or E! News. It is very discouraging to see.

I think that parents and society as a whole should be aware of this. We should be aware of who our children want to emulate and consider their role models, even more so in this media-driven society. I have a 7-year-old niece and an 11-year old nephew that know more about the rapper Drake than I do, and can recite just about every word to a lot of his rap songs. I am always appalled that my older brother allows them to listen to a lot of the explicit lyrics from those songs. Regardless if my brother thinks it is cool or funny to see children rapping, it is not a good message that he is sending to them. It is up to the adults to be the responsible ones, not the enablers.

Even though the positive role models of my childhood are not seen today, it still does not mean that all hope is lost for the younger generation. I think it is important for parents to spend quality time with their impressionable children. I think it is good to make sure that they at least have one or two TV programs that promote positive messages and role models. Next time a 12-year-old wants to watch Selena Gomez’ racy new music video, maybe it would be a better option for her mom or dad to sit down with her and watch Bindi Irwin on Dancing with the Stars instead.