Will Smith slapped Chris Rock on stage at the Oscars this past Sunday. [Reuters]

Despite issuing an apology to fellow actor, Chris Rock after slapping him on stage at the Oscars this past Sunday, the effect has already been felt. What many forget is, celebrities have a powerful impact on all of us, especially our children.

Will Smith’s actions can have a negative influence on the youth as he is a role model for many.

Studies reveal there are different types of fans: Those who idolise celebrities to the extent they hate themselves and even hit depression, those who have borderline-pathological interests and can be a danger to themselves and the celebrity they adore. 

Are the celebrities innocent? The truth is, they are not always the best people. A study carried out in the US between two study group subjects led to interesting conclusions.

200 young adults pursuing their Masters Degrees (a group allegedly known for being more narcissistic than the general population) were studied alongside 200 celebrities, and the latter were significantly more narcissistic.

The worst were comedians, who scored high on exhibitionism and feelings of superiority followed by actors, then musicians.

So what happens when those in the public eye do not behave well? It sets a tone and sends the wrong message to the younger audience. In a society where 'good behaviour' is largely practised, actions by a public figure contrary to that plant a seed in the minds of many.

People start to display behaviours that are learned, either intentionally or inadvertently, through the influence of example.

One study on negative adult influences reported that identity formation is a central focus during younger stages in life where the younger generation are particularly likely to be influenced by adults in their environment.

Young people often look up to adults in order to determine appropriate and acceptable behaviour. Sadly most of these models our children are looking up to are celebrities with negative behaviour like underage drinking, drug use and violence. 

Findings suggest that ordinary people and the youth are influenced by those people they hold in high esteem. 

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