The “Puer Optionis:” Contemporary childhood adultization, spectacularization, and sexualization

Davide Cino


The present paper tries to conceptualize postmodern childhood by suggesting the expression “Puer Optionis” as a way to summarize the condition of contemporary children. Why are our kids always more prone to look for an audience? According to some academics our Zeitgeist evolved and, along with it, the values spread through our kids changed, shifting from comunitarian and altruistic to individualistic and narcissistic (Uhls, Greenfield, 2011). In a “spectacularized” society (Codeluppi, 2007), fame and desire of visibility are shown as goals to be reached during a devolpment phase, childhood, where the construction of a belief system (Bandura A. et al., 1963) can considerably magnify them. Three examples of “showcases” are suggested, regarding children spectacularization process: the city; the stage; social networking sites (SNS), opening a short parenthesis about “Sharenting”. Finally, an evolution of the Imaginary Audience theory by David Elkind (Elkind, 1967) will be assessed: in a world where every aspect of our lives can drop in the spotlight, is this audience still “imaginary”? What are the implications for our kids and the educational challenges we are facing as educators?


childhood; adultization; desire of fame; puer optionis; sharenting

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DOI: 10.6092/issn.1970-2221/7094

Copyright (c) 2017 Davide Cino

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