Kids' Goals Hold Clues for Depression Risk
March 18, 2003 9:00 AM   Subscribe

What are the key sources of the "money/fame/beauty are everything" meme and what are the best ways to help kids (and grownups) counteract it?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:03 AM on March 18, 2003

key sources? like, advertising, TV, film, magazines, parents?

i think critical thinking skills are the best possible tools--sort of lets you see the wizard behind the curtain.

then there is the technique of delusional thinking, i always just told myself i was smart and so it didn't matter that all the other kids called me 'shrimp'....and now i'm a pretty happy if not somewhat elitist snob, so it sort of worked after a few decades.
posted by th3ph17 at 9:35 AM on March 18, 2003

then there is the technique of delusional thinking
i was smart and so it didn't matter that all the other kids called me

So you cut your own path in life, not followed someone else's, does not sound delusional at all.

Sounds from the article children are having to face life's facts at a much early age. Could this be due to too much media today?

Besides organized sports, do kids play outside these days?
posted by thomcatspike at 9:51 AM on March 18, 2003

Besides organized sports, do kids play outside these days?

Only if I let them out of the cupboard.
posted by biffa at 9:59 AM on March 18, 2003

do kids play outside these days?

with all the WiFi networks popping up, i see no reason why kids shouldn't be able to play outside.
posted by th3ph17 at 10:20 AM on March 18, 2003

What are the key sources of the "money/fame/beauty are everything" meme

Most of those spring out of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs which is basic to the human condition. You can probably actualize each need without money/fame/beauty, but those are pretty direct analogs to food/shelter/safety, love and esteem.
posted by willnot at 10:24 AM on March 18, 2003

Money/fame/beauty are specific instances of the larger general problem: That we as a people tend to seek synthetic substitutes for meaningful human contact. For the most part, America is a nation of lonely people, who don't talk to each other and don't do much with their hands and bodies.

We look to fame and money as analogues to what we're really missing: Hearing other people and being heard by them; relying on other people and being relied upon; persisting as a steady point on real people's map instead of searching for ourselves in HR forms and TV static; loving and being loved.

We're not very good at recognizing our real needs, which is why we try to satisfy them with money and fashion and Friends instead of love and contemplation and friends.

And if we're not very good at recognizing what we need we won't see what our children need. And we'll keep feeding them the same unsatisfactory synthetic paste we feed ourselves.
posted by argybarg at 11:07 AM on March 18, 2003

beautiful post argybarg.
posted by th3ph17 at 11:38 AM on March 18, 2003

Well, if you lower your expectations of course you'll be less likely to be depressed. Duh.

But what kind of kid dreams of being a janitor?
posted by nyxxxx at 12:25 PM on March 18, 2003

I don't know about this. It didn't say whether there were any other differences between the depressed "money/beauty/power" children and the other kids. Perhaps these kids are getting their warped sense of priorities from their parents, who, because of their lousy priorities, are not fulfilling their children's emotional needs. I always wonder about cause and effect in these sorts of studies.
posted by Lori at 1:03 PM on March 18, 2003

I can see The Onion headline now: Good Looks and Money not Needed for Happiness Say Wealthy, Beautiful People

There's really no indication about what controls were used or whether the groups were normalized for socio-economic circumstances.

In a mixed community of rich and poor, the rich will obviously not say "having lots of money is important" because they all have it. It would be like saying "food and water are important to be happy." Noone says that because everyone has it. However, the poorer children in the group will struggle due to class tensions and the fact that the spending power of the rich will tend to drive up the cost of living for the poor. Those who are struggling and constantly on the "losing end" in the class system will be more depressed and feel that getting more wealth and fame (the things being dangled in front of them every day) will be the "answer" to solve their problems.

So maybe they're depressed because of their circumstances. Their circumstances cause them to have much more unhealthy, materialistic goals.
posted by deanc at 2:35 PM on March 18, 2003

Need more coffee. I thought the headline said "kids' goats hold clues for depression risk".

But to save myself from being banished back to Fark for a comment like that I'd like to say that anytime a kid is left to him or herself to find the path to happiness, it will be very rare that they'll avoid falling into such traps of false needs. Parents need to be keenly aware of how their children perceive the world and their own place in it, and whether they can positively affect this mindset. Or, for that matter, are they setting an example they would want their children to follow?
posted by Space Coyote at 7:55 PM on March 18, 2003

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