The world around us does seem to be transforming with a whirlwind of developments, and as we try to keep pace with such fast-paced advances and transitions, our surrounding environment tends to assume a very significant role. One of the major forces within this surrounding environment could be manifested in the form of the examples set by others in the society. And such forces inevitably tend to be most influential for the young minds, tending to be most vulnerable, and who eventually form the future of the nation. In other words, it is the role models around these children who play a decisive role in influencing their own choices. Therefore, on the occasion of Children’s Day, it seems to be imperative to elaborate on such a theme, shedding light on the necessity of such role models and the potential wave of change they can exert in shaping the future of the country.
Common Sources of Role Models
With the over-encompassing technological invasion in the contemporary world, the role of the media is more than obvious. We all are bombarded by its manifestations in a variety of forms, ranging from television, films, radio broadcasts, advertisements, print media, etc. within our daily lives. Not only are such sources attractive by nature but also have a powerful impact on our minds. And most children and adolescents tend to have role models based on their portrayal in the media industry. Such celebrities typically have an inherently glamorous aspect attached to them, which inevitably attaches a ‘cool’ factor, as the young minds perceive their portrayals as being desirable. Such a powerful force however needs to be cautioned, as the young minds need to be trained to be able to accurately distinguish between the real and the virtual world. The role of media literacy becomes essential towards the accomplishment of such a goal.
On the other hand, vicarious learning is undoubtedly one of the most significant sources of learning for children and adolescents. Therefore, children would look up to their family members, teachers, other authority figures as well as their peers (especially in their teenage years). It is therefore necessary for us to not only recognize their potential impact but also incorporate the desirable behaviours within our daily lives. At our own individual levels, it becomes necessary to set an example, and remember to practice what you preach, as you are likely to be a role model for a youngster around you.
Impact of these role models
Needless to say, the role model chosen by a child plays an extremely significant role in the child’s life. This could include their lifestyle choices, career choices, personality and behavioral influences, etc. For instance, the aggression exhibited by sports personalities on the fields is often imbibed by children as being associated with their success and achievements. Similarly, the portrayal of various celebrities in films and other media has been known to play a significant role in influencing the prevalence of risk taking behaviours, substance use, etc. Further, the glamorous perception of various celebrities can have a majorly detrimental impact on the children and adolescents’ sense of self and body image. Therefore, it is vital not only to break stereotypes and spread awareness about the potential impact of role models, but also essential to encourage media literacy. We need to train the young minds of the country to become more responsible citizens which could be reflected in their choices of role models as well.
Our Societal Responsibility
It has been proven unequivocally that young minds learn by watching those around them. Therefore, it does not come as a surprise to note that youngsters today still look up to adults to learn how to conduct themselves, a reality that has not yet changed. Such a tendency to learn by observations comes with its merits and disadvantages, based on how such social learning is cultivated. Both altruism and truancy are social behaviours that are learned by observing others.
And therefore, the importance of role models should not be stressed solely in the context of the children and adolescent population, but should also extend to the adults within the various strata of the society. In fact, this is in tandem with my recent blog on the occasion of teacher’s day, which highlighted the need for each individual to assume the role of a mentor or a teacher. It is thus, the collective responsibility of adults, be parents, educators, or the media, to provide youngsters with positive, pro-social role models to foster a youth that is compassionate, empathetic and responsible.