Jury Coordination and Notes

Archive for November, 2008

Stereotyping Has Strong Effect on Kids

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

Everyone is exposed to stereotyping and bias, so much so, that it is often overlooked. Setting a good example in our home, with your family and friends, is the best way to help your kids grow up to be open-minded individuals. However, stereotyping in media, on videogames, TV, movies, DVDs and radio, should not be ignored. One of KIDS FIRST! Baseline Criteria is “NO bias in terms of race, gender, culture or religion.” Bias, or preconceived opinions about others can often be used to justify an unfair act against another, and seeks to limit, keep out or control people of differing races, genders, abilities, or other cultural or socioeconomic groups.

The effects of stereotyping on young children are astonishing…

  • At age 2, children begin to classify differences in gender and race.
  • At age 3, children are susceptible to believing stereotypes.
  • At age 5, children understand cultural identity and can pick out stereotypes.
  • At age 9, children believe stereotypes are correct unless they undergo a major life experience to the contrary.

How to recognize stereotypes:

  • Look at the good guys and the bad guys. What race, gender or age are they?
  • Look at the rich and the poor. How do they behave?
  • Look at the story line. What is the standard for success?
  • Look at problems. How and by who are they resolved?
  • What is the role of women? Of minorities? Of the elderly?
  • Describe the lifestyles of different groups. Who do you want to be like?

Ask yourself, and discuss with your kids if these stereotypes can be true of everyone in that race, gender, profession or economic status. Open and honest discussions with your children will help them to form their own opinions and to think for themselves.

Pictured top left: Bali, My New Friend Mateo (Planet Nemo), an independent short where a young child who befriends a blind boy only to find he is capable of doing more than he imagined. Pictured above: Tomboy (Coyle Productions), an independent short about a girl who has to deal with gender bias every day and her supportive mother who helps her to understand that it is ok to be different.

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Gender Bias, Still A Problem

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Even in 2008, with a former Presidential candidate and Vice Presidential candidate who are women, and all of the equal rights women have fought for for decades, the media our children watch is still fraught with gender bias. Recently, a media analysis of 24 countries worldwide was conducted and found that there are twice as many male characters than female characters.

In cartoons and other programs targeted towards kids, the proportion of females is even lower. Furthermore, 72% of all main characters are Caucasian and not representative of the ethnic diversity in the prospective country.

WordGirl on PBS Kids! features a young female heroine who saves the day by spelling. A good role model for girls, she’s tough and fearless, and protects the world from villains by being smart.

Other findings include:
– male characters are twice as frequently overweight as girl characters, showing “skinny” girls and overweight boys
– females are portayed in groups and males are portrayed more frequently as loners and antagonists
– the dominant hair color for females is blonde and red-haired
– babies and elderly are virtually absent as protagonists
– adolescent girls are more common than adolescent boys

All these gender bias’ set our children up for unrealistic expectations of themselves and others. It is because of this and many other bias in our culture, and worldwide, that it is especially important to become critical viewers of media. Help your children ask questions and not just accept what they see on TV, in the movies, on DVDs and in videogames. People treating each other with respect, and respecting the individuality and intelligence of our children is our main responsibility. Hopefully, media will follow by example!

To read the article in it’s entirety, visit Girls and Boys and Television.

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