Students who took the exam for admission to the 10th grade in HCM City last week were inspired by the literature question on their own thoughts about two situations.
The first case had a teen girl being driven by her mother on a motorbike. The vehicle fell over after it bumped into another bike, and while the mother hastily picked up all the scattered belongings with the help of some kindly passers-by, the girl looked on emotionlessly doing nothing.
The second case was that of a teenage boy who could accurately list all the likes and habits of a pop star he admired while humming and hawing when being asked about his parents' profession and hobbies.
Both of these cases were taken from Tuoi Tre Chu Nhat (Youth) weekly magazine, which had reported a recent series of stories on teenagers.
The topic is quite familiar to students. It is about the ignorance and irresponsibility of the younger generation, as most answers said.
The habit of always receiving care has created a new ‘disease' as it was called - with teenagers absorbed in superficial things and too selfish to care about the people around them.
The exam's answer must mention idol worship as among the unreal things that affect teenagers, especially when stories about teen obsession over Korean pop stars. Some teen girls are so obsessed they will kiss a chair that a pop star has sat on or speak ill of their parents on personal blogs for throwing away photos of their idols. These incidents were both real, and mentioned in a local newspaper, news that could depress any parent.
Dr Dinh Thi Ngoc Oanh from the Viet Nam Institute of Child Education Research said idol worship was a natural psychological behaviour and it was baseless to say that it had a negative impact on children.
"Idol worship exists all over the world. Many are influenced by someone they admire - this can be called a type of worship. Role models are not only famous people, but they can be anyone," she said.
"Parents even encourage their kids to have role models as they believe it will significantly influence a child's future by motivating them to strive for something and keep them on the path to success."
Oanh said teenagers were usually attracted by superficial things. Thus, the choice of making singers or movie stars as their idol was understandable.
However, this natural psychology should be kept in check to avoid unhealthy obsessions growing out of control, she said.
"Skipping school for a concert, lying to parents about what they are doing, wildly screaming and other behaviours are all pathological signs. Admiration is totally different from fanaticism," Oanh said.
Nguyen Huyen Trang, a 10th grader at Ha Noi's Kim Lien High School, said most of her class, including herself, were crazy about pop stars, but it didn't mean that they did not lead a grounded life.
"We are also touched by young heroes throughout history such as Vo Thi Sau and Le Van Tam who sacrificed themselves for the nation during the war against the French, and we all wish to become the second Steve Jobs or Bill Gates one day," she said.
There's nothing wrong with kids looking up to trend-setters, but according to Oanh, the important thing is that parents should guide their children and ensure they have a strong role model and know not to cross the line into unhealthy obsession.
"Every generation has their own obsession. We used to have an idol during our childhood, didn't we?" she said.
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