Last week on October 27th, TIME Magazine released their list of the most influential teenagers, aging from 13 to 19 years old. I am happy to note that most of the teens on the list were girls (yay!). However, there is one question that I wish those at TIME would have considered before publishing their list: is the person influential in a positive or negative way? According to their website, “To determine Time’s annual list, we consider accolades across numerous fields, global impact through social media, and overall ability to drive news.”
Overall, I agree with the list which included several people who are a positive influence on American teens. Some of the big names on the list include Bindi Irwin who promotes conservation efforts, Malala Yousafzai who fights for women’s education, Jazz Jennings who brings awareness of Trans issues, and Girl Meets World star Rowan Blanchard who uses her popularity on social media to talk about feminism and made headlines for posting a very well thought out response to White Feminism on her Tumblr account (you can check it out here). These are just a few of the talented teens who absolutely demonstrate how to be a positive influence to American teens and deserve to be on the list. In fact, most of the young teens do. However, what caught my attention was some of the reality stars on the list. So many of these stars are a negative influence on Americans and should not be included on a list of influential teens.
For example, Kylie and Kendall Jenner were placed on the list of Most Influential Teens. Sure they have a huge social media presence and influence a lot of people, but for the most part, not in a positive manner. Our society idolizes reality TV stars. There is not a day that goes by where I don’t see something about some reality TV star in the media. My Facebook newsfeed usually has some story on the ridiculous thing Reality Star whoever did. Personally, I do not see reality stars as being influential in a positive way (except for Jazz Jennings who is wonderful and I hope her show is on for many, many seasons). To compare the Jenners to people like Malala, Olivia Hallisey, who invented a new way to test for the Ebola virus, Ahmed Mohamed, the 14 year old who made headlines after creating his own clock initially landed him in hot water, and Chloe Kim, the youngest person ever to win gold at the Winter X-Games, is insulting.
You could argue about how these reality stars absolutely deserve to be on the list, after all Kendall Jenner is an international supermodel and Kylie Jenner created her own line of beauty products. Both of the sisters have book deals and clothing lines. But is that enough to be included on a list of so many teenagers who have contributed to the greater good of humanity? Should these accomplished teens be on the same list as poorly behaved ones? Both Jenner girls have been observed being rude to their fans and disrespectful to their parents and other family members. I can recall at least one episode each where the sisters manipulated someone to get their way. Is this the example we should be setting, that it’s okay to curse out your mom because she didn’t do what you wanted to do?
I get it, everyone has their off days and nobody is happy go lucky 24/7. But when you live your life in front of the camera and know that millions of people look up to you, shouldn’t you have a responsibility to act in a positive way? Unfortunately, most reality stars are paid to be negative, obnoxious, and rude. Some Americans would rather watch the drama put forth in these shows than shows that have a more positive message. I ask this question to all of you, should celebrities be kind to their fans and set good examples for all of the young people who worship the ground they walk on?
It is my hope that next year TIME puts in more time to determine which teens have a positive influence on America and thus deserve to be on such an honorable list.
You can check out the full list of teens here: http://time.com/4081618/most-influential-teens-2015/