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Study: Fame More Important To Tweens Than Community, Charity

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — "Fame!/I'm gonna live forever/I'm gonna learn how to fly!"

The lyrics to the theme song from the hit 1980s TV show may be even more relevant now than they were two decades ago after a study released on Tuesday shows fame is still the leading value emphasized by television shows popular among young kids.

The findings by UCLA psychologists who conducted the study mark a dramatic shift from the past, when "community feeling" — being part of a group — was the top value as recently as 1997.

Fame was ranked second to last among 16 values in similar studies conducted in 1987 and 1997, before topping the 2007 study.

Community feeling was the No. 1 value in 1967, 1977 and 1997 and second in 1987, but 11th in 2007.

"I was shocked, especially by the dramatic changes in the last 10 years," said Yalda T. Uhls, a UCLA doctoral student in developmental psychology and the lead author of the study, published in the July issue of Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace.

"I thought fame would be important, but did not expect this drastic an increase or such a dramatic decrease in other values, such as community feeling," she added. "If you believe that television reflects the culture, as I do, then American culture has changed drastically."

Following fame in the top values in 2007 were achievement, popularity, image and financial success. In 1997, the top five were community feeling, benevolence (being kind and helping others), image, tradition and self-acceptance.

In 2007, benevolence dropped to 12th and tradition 15th.

Quite a few television series that are popular among "tweens" depict young people achieving great fame, despite little hard work, Uhls said, specifically citing Disney Channel's "Hannah Montana," and fail to convey how rare such success is or the sacrifices required to achieve it.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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