If you are a white girl, a black girl or a black boy, exposure to today’s electronic media in the long run tends to make you feel worse about yourself. If you’re a white boy, you’ll feel better, according to a new study led by an Indiana University professor.
Nicole Martins, an assistant professor of telecommunications in the IU College of Arts and Sciences, and Kristen Harrison, professor of communication studies at the University of Michigan, also found that black children in their study spent, on average, an extra 10 hours a week watching television.
"We can’t deny the fact that media has an influence when they’re spending most of their time — when they’re not in school — with the television," Martins said.
Harrison added, “Children who are not doing other things besides watching television cannot help but compare themselves to what they see on the screen.”
Their paper has been published in Communication Research. Martins and Harrison surveyed a group of about 400 black and white preadolescent students in communities in the Midwest over a yearlong period. Rather than look at the impact of particular shows or genres, they focused on the correlation between the time in front of the TV and the impact on their self-esteem.
"Regardless of what show you’re watching, if you’re a white male, things in life are pretty good for you," Martins said of characters on TV. "You tend to be in positions of power, you have prestigious occupations, high education, glamorous houses, a beautiful wife, with very little portrayals of how hard you worked to get there.
"If you are a girl or a woman, what you see is that women on television are not given a variety of roles," she added. "The roles that they see are pretty simplistic; they’re almost always one-dimensional and focused on the success they have because of how they look, not what they do or what they think or how they got there.
"This sexualization of women presumably leads to this negative impact on girls."
With regard to black boys, they are often criminalized in many programs, shown as hoodlums and buffoons, and without much variety in the kinds of roles they occupy.
"Young black boys are getting the opposite message: that there is not lots of good things that you can aspire to," Martins said. "If we think about those kinds of messages, that’s what’s responsible for the impact.
"If we think just about the sheer amount of time they’re spending, and not the messages, these kids are spending so much time with the media that they’re not given a chance to explore other things they’re good at, that could boost their self-esteem."
Martins said their study counters claims by producers that programs have been progressive in their depictions of under-represented populations. An earlier study co-authored by her and Harrison suggests that video games “are the worst offenders when it comes to representation of ethnicity and gender.”
Other research is starting to show the impacts of other kinds of entertainment sources, such as video games and hand-held devices. It indicates that young people are becoming creative at “media multitasking.”
"Even though these new technologies are becoming more available, kids still spend more time with TV than anything else," Martins said.
Interestingly, the young people were asked about their consumption of print media, but the results were not statistically significant.
Martins conducted the research while she was completing her Ph.D. at the University of Illinois, as part of a larger longitudinal study done with her co-author, Harrison. They sought out certain school districts in Illinois because of their diversity, but African-Americans were the predominant minority group.
Enough ladies. I get it. You have periods… But we’re approaching peak vagina on television, the point of labia saturation.” The current female T.V. boom contrasts with “Two and a Half Men” portraying women as bimbos, something Aronsohn isn’t about to apologize for. “Screw it… we’re centering the show on two very damaged men. What makes men damaged? Sorry, it’s women. I never got my heart broken by a man.
No one is really surprised that the guy who masterminded the worst show on television is a sexist jerk, but dang, lol all day at this quote. Sorry your personality is as terrible as the TV you write.
A Change of Heart: The Real Housewives Can Do Real Damage
Last December, I sat in my friend’s living room, glued to her television as we watched one of the last episodes of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. I was completely hooked on The Real Housewives series. I loved the characters and their loud, crazy, dramatic interactions with each other. I loved taking sides by celebrating some of the “housewives,” and vilifying others.
I would share the latest gossip with my friends on Twitter and Facebook: “Did you see how “crazy” Ramona was when she confronted Kelly on The Real Housewives of New York? Why is Camille Grammer (star of the Beverly Hills series) so evil and desperate?”
I saw The Real Housewives series, and other shows like it, as fun, accessible entertainment—escapism.
I was wrong.
Even though that Real Housewives viewing party happened just seven months ago, my days of celebrating and promoting the show are long gone. I can no longer stand to watch a program that—while brilliantly produced and written with respect to entertainment value—perpetuates a horrible stereotype about women: that they are hysterical, unhinged, and conniving.
I have realized that I can’t see reality shows like The Real Housewives as mindless, fun escapism anymore. These kinds of shows put women right into the gutter of a society where bias and discrimination against women are still strongly prevalent.
Today in Unexpected:
Citing a 2007 study that found two thirds of lead characters on British children’s TV were male, Swinson said that broadcasters are hurting girl’s self-esteem by showing female characters mainly in supporting roles and focusing on their looks…
When my cousin was younger, he loved Pippi Longstocking. I remember once my mom making a comment of how strange that was, that of all characters this is the one he liked. Maybe because it is an old book, and she expected him to go for something more recent…but I think there is this expectation that boys can’t relate to female characters (yet girls are expected to relate to the main male character? Rather, instead of relating to the main actor, she should be relating to the supporting character, whereas little boys should always be relating to the main character, and therefore that main character should be male).
I think this is just yet another thing that reflects our culture (and reinforces it, by socializing children to think it’s normal)
How amazing of a lawmaker to come forward and insist that underrepresentation in media is more than a passing concern…!
Coach Taylor is a great stealth feminist. He shapes boys into men, but he does it by teaching them positive values of friendship, teamwork, hard work, and yes, respect for women. The show’s dealt with some of the more misogynist aspects of football, including treatment of cheerleaders. And sometimes Coach has had a “boys will be boys” attitude, but then Tami’s always there to nudge him. [via Feministing]
Clear eyes, full hearts (can’t lose it when I watch the finale!).
Desperate Housewives is an international phenomenon. According to Wikipedia, it is the third most watched TV show in a study of 20 countries, and the most-watched comedy series. The series makes 2.74 million, per half hour. Even scarier is that while this show is meant for an adult audience, they wind up marketing it to kids, too. A study in ’05 (after only 2 seasons of the so far 7-season show) showed that Desperate Housewives was the most popular broadcast-network television show of children ages 9-12.