Why teens emulate TV characters
It is not uncommon to see teenagers imitating TV characters: the psychologist explains why boys tend to want to emulate TV characters, even if they are not edifying models at all.
Teenagers imitating TV characters
Which means to emulate? Aemulo from the Latin emulo, rival. The meaning refers to the take someone as a model, imitate. Admiration towards someone prompts the subject to try to surpass him in glory and magnificence.
What do boys dream of
Children want to be, they want to acquire their own identity, a personality that is accepted by everyone, by peers, by adults, by society. Growing up becomes a commitment and differentiating oneself from one’s parents involves great sacrifice, renunciation and a lot of courage.
Many come empowered even before having reached the age of majority and while for some it is a natural path – however inserted in a specific socio-cultural context – for others it is a huge weight to which one relates unwillingly due to concerns and tasks that weigh at the expense of a psychological immaturity.
L’omnipotence it is part of the growth period.
While the child lives this phase during the first years of life, abandoning this fantasy linked to control and power with development and differentiation, the adolescent – the child – proposes, in a new phase of life, his own narcissism and it needs to demonstrate its power but above all to redefine its identity. And here is that the process of identification in real or imaginative characters becomes a source of emulation.
“I too can become invincible, I can accept the challenge”, “I too can be able to do what Genny does in the film Gomorrah”.
L’imitation it is a process through which the boy understands his own weaknesses and overcomes them, he knows his own insecurities and he wins them by making himself respected, showing himself stronger, oppressing the weakest: this is how the sense of omnipotence is satisfied. L’imitation is admiration.
Several studies (Bandura 1973) have concerned the tendency of children and young people to imitate behavioral models offered on television. This process can induce positive effects and stimulate pro-sociality, but also negative and devastating on the level of the psyche and emotionality.
Watching a particularly violent film, stimulates the propensity to aggression. Through the TV, prototypes are proposed that are emulated due to the use of details on the behavior implemented, on the results of the same and on the relative advantages deriving from it. All this in a legitimate key since it is the television channel that provides the suggestion.
The internet (web TV, social networks) and smartphones also act in the same way as other mass media. Currently children are able to use these tools much better than adults and are quick and strategic in overcoming any kind of prohibition. There is no control over these either.
Their personality it is then shaped as a function of dependencies, emulations and aggression.
Today, since something closer to their way of thinking and their way of being, and even more so if there is no containment within the family unit and the behavioral dynamics are “confirmed” by what is externally proposes again, but also in the future considering that their experiences, their way of thinking will condition their future growth.
What can be done?
In many cases, adolescents turn out to be unmanageable from this point of view but onea firm position and an authoritative decision on compliance with rules and limits in the use of technological tools could be a good start. Often it is the parents who “give up” their children in front of the television or a PC for lack of time or for other unjustifiable reasons.
Being able to follow a child or adolescent by responding to their needs and observing with their eyes is becoming more and more complex due to the generational leap that affects some modern families, often recomposed and not without conflicts.
Kids need to be followed and directed to constructive and pro social models that is, to actions that produce, increase and stimulate the well-being of others so as to obtain benefits also and above all personal. If I recognize and accept the discomfort of others, I am able to recognize mine too and intervene.
The educational stimulus that derives from it is far more effective than any other model internalized in a passive and disorienting way for a personality still in formation.