Should I be concerned about my kid's celebrity obsession?

Celebrity obsessions are a natural part of growing up. As kids enter adolescence and begin forming their identities, they begin to seek out media figures for cues on how to look and act. That's why it's a great idea to help them find positive role models.

Tweens in today's media environment can feast on an endless supply of information. They can stream every movie their idols have been in on On Demand or Netflix, track down every late-night talk show appearance on YouTube, read their bios on Wikipedia or IMDB, and look at candid photos and read gossip on sites such as Perez Hilton and Just Jared. And they can share their passion with friends on social media and fan sites.

All of this may seem excessive to you, but unless it's getting in the way of your kid's life, it's probably fine. The warning signs of a potentially dangerous celebrity crush come when kids go to extremes that have a negative impact. They may spend all their money (and ask to borrow yours) to try to look like their favorite stars. They may engage in risky body alterations to imitate them. Or they may actually inflict physical harm on themselves -- for example, cutting their skin and posting the results to social media to demonstrate the depth of their feeling.

It may not be obvious how serious your kid's celebrity obsession is, so check in with her. Watch the star's movies together, ask about the celeb, and determine whether it's all in fun or her obsession is hindering her. If it's interfering with her sleep, homework, social life, self-esteem, or relationship with you, then you may be facing a deeper issue.

Here are some ways to manage this phase of your kid's life:

Take it seriously. Tempting though it may be to mockingly declare yourself a "Belieber" and show off your mad dance skills, kids may feel you're belittling them.

Support it within reason. Yes, she can get tickets to the Taylor Swift concert. No, she can't follow Taylor Swift's concert tour across the country.

Talk about what comes up. In their obsessive research of a celeb, kids may turn up tidbits -- such as a star advocating legalizing marijuana -- that they want to discuss with you. Welcome these conversations as an opportunity to impart your values. Even if you disagree, aim to keep the lines of communication open.

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