COULD the outstanding success of both the London Olympics and Paralympics give us new values when it comes to finding our icons?

I may have misread the signs here, but quite a bit of the glitz appears to have dropped off the types of people who have become established “celebrities” in recent years. We’re now much less interested in Big Brother, the doings of Cheryl and company, and acknowledge that some reality show winners are seven-day wonders.

While it’s hard to curb the general curiosity about what the stars wore to a film premiere and their latest love interests, the obsession about them and, more importantly, their iconic status is diminishing.

Instead, children and teens in particular appear to be more admiring of the genuine qualities shown by our Olympians and Paralympians. Ask the average nine year-old who she wants to be like when she gets older and there’s a fair chance she’ll name sprinter Jessica Ennis. This last week, swimmer Ellie Simmonds has captured young imaginations in the same way.

The great thing about this quiet shift is the obvious health and sport links, and the moving away from admiring the pointless lifestyles of some young celebs who have gone the drink and drugs’ route in a downward spiral. There are even reports that, gulp, young men and women generally are not drinking as much and not taking drugs.

Before we get too excited about a possible sensible sea-change, pop stars and models will always fascinate the young. They represent glamour, popularity and money but it may be that our increasingly observant youngsters easily spot that working hard to get what you want offers the greater chance of an enduring career rather than one that suddenly glitters and then dies.

From a parental point of view, the great thing about all this is that it isn’t being achieved by nagging and suggestions from them. Youngsters are coming to these conclusions themselves without Mum or Dad being critical of their current icons - thus ensuring they will definitely continue their admiration.

It may be that a recession with less money around finally sorts out the wheat from the chaff when it comes to what’s worthwhile in life and what definitely isn’t. Certainly, the Olympics and Paralympics have not been short on the kind of heroes whose activities and ethos transcend sport and provide valuable life lessons for us all.