Gendered Media Has Long Lasting Effect On Children: Report
A new report shows that the effects of gender stereotypes in the media have long lasting effects on children. The report analysed more than 150 articles, interviews and research to show that the messages on gender which the children receive tend to stick.
The organisation which conducted the research, Common Sense Media, also took a survey of 1,000 parents. Here are some of the key highlights of the report:
Media reinforces the idea that masculine traits are more valued than feminine traits. Boys who see this are more likely to exhibit masculine behaviour. The more TV 4-year-olds watch, the more they will think that boys and men are better than girls and women.
The report also said that the media promotes ideas that girls should be concerned about their appearance, and should treat their bodies as sexual objects for others’ consumption.
In adolescence, media promotes sexist beliefs, increases tolerance of sexual harassment and the belief that women are responsible in some part for sexual assaults against them.
More gender traditional TV means that children will aspire to be professionals in careers that are more stereotypical to their gender. It also means that children will start believing that there are certain behaviours which men should do, and certain behaviours, such as chores, which women should do.
And as children enter adolescence, the media provides lessons on how children are expected to behave in romantic situations, and this behaviour is gendered. Men are supposed to be more sexually aggressive, while women are supposed to be submissive.
We need to show a diversity of behaviours on TV, and need to increase media literacy for children of all ages, says the report.
The authors say that parents can actively pick out shows which defy gender stereotypes or which promote strong female characters, and point these out to their children. It is also important to show characters expressing their emotions in positive ways and who have non-gender stereotypical professional aspirations.