Yalda T Uhls from the University of California, Los Angeles, warned social media makes it easier to seek shortcuts to fame
SOCIAL media is helping to fuel a growing obsession with fame that is driving some wannabe celebs to risk life and limb, an expert has warned.
Young people are particularly vulnerable, with a recent study by social media network Clapit revealing some of the shocking lengths youngsters are willing to go to in order to become famous.
The report revealed a shocking one in 14 millennials would dump their partner for a shot at fame, while one in 12 would disown their families, according to Clapit.
These worrying results were mirrored by another piece of research by Yalda T Uhls of the Children’s Digital Media Centre at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
A survey of kids between the ages of nine and 15 across the US found that 38 per cent ranked fame near the top of their list of things they valued, according to Great Schools.
This was from a shortlist including community feeling, financial success, self-acceptance, achievement, tradition, image, and kindness.
Yalda told Sun Online: “I do think a certain subset of children probably want fame more than ever, given how many tools are available to do this.”
The birth of social media over the last decade has given rise to a new breed of celeb.
YouTube stars like Trisha Paytas and PewDiePie – who was dropped by Disney earlier this year – have proved kids can become stars overnight without even leaving their bedrooms.
Yalda, who wrote a book on the effect of social media on kids and their development, said: “Social media certainly makes it easier and we did find that kids who used social media more and watched more TV (which consists of a great deal of reality TV) desired fame more.”
But the researcher warned a craving for stardom can be a cause for concern – particularly “if the desire for fame is just for fame and not to actually do the work or be recognised for a skill”.
She said: “We’ve seen some [terrible consequences] here in the States, such as the boy who had his girlfriend shoot him through a book and ended up dying.”
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Pregnant 19-year-old Monalisa Perez was arrested in June after accidentally killing her boyfriend as the pair made what they hoped would be a viral YouTube video that would catapult them to fame.
Pedro Ruiz, 22, reportedly pushed his partner to shoot at him with a handgun as he held an encyclopaedia in front of his chest – wrongly convinced it would stop the bullet.
But despite being one of the better-known cases, his tragic death is sadly not the only incident of its kind in recent times.
Jonathan Chow, 17, died after leaping over a safety barrier at a Singapore shopping mall in March while attempting a risky stunt for a Snapchat video.
He had hoped to land on a ledge on the other side but he fell through the plasterboard material and plummeted four floors to his death.
In another case in June, an Algerian man was caged after dangling a baby out of a 15th floor window for Facebook likes.
The depraved attention seeker grasped the tot by his shirt in one hand and filmed the incident with his phone in the other hand, telling Facebook Live viewers: “1,000 likes or I will drop him”.
Fortunately the little boy escaped unscathed and the man was tracked down and jailed for two years after social media users alerted cops.
But a vlogger from Peru was not so lucky when he nearly lost a testicle while filming a stunt for his YouTube channel in May.
Will Zeven, from Peru, allowed a girl to kick him in the crotch on camera after he lost a game of rock, paper, scissors – suffering a “testicular post-trauma explosion” in the process.
He then got the hospital’s permission to film the operation he needed to repair the damage before uploading that too in a desperate bid for online hits.
And it seems the pull of social media fame could drive yet more daredevils to hurt themselves and others as they seek a shortcut to stardom.
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