What if girls ran kids TV?

This month, LiveWire tuned in to the TV viewing trends of girls ages eight to 13. We wanted to find out what they're watching, how much they're watching and what else they'd like to watch if they could. We were also...
August 1, 1999

This month, LiveWire tuned in to the TV viewing trends of girls ages eight to 13. We wanted to find out what they’re watching, how much they’re watching and what else they’d like to watch if they could. We were also

interested in how girls feel about TV shows that tackle serious issues and how effective those shows are.

What we found:

Most girls on our panel reported that they spend between two and three hours in front of the tube each day,

primarily in the evening. The majority said the most enjoyable part of TV watching is being able to relax.

Although solo TV viewing is a common occurrence, most often our girls’ audience companions are family

members. Very rarely do they watch TV with their friends. This explains the fact that their most common request was for more family programming. A number of girls said they would like to see more family fare because they feel more comfortable watching such shows with their parents and because they like the lessons these shows often teach. They also suggested more teenage dramas (such as Dawson’s Creek) and more comedy shows for kids.

We then asked girls how they feel about TV shows that tackle serious issues. The majority of our panel feel they are a

great way to bring real-life concerns out into the open and reach kids whose parents don’t address subjects like racism or divorce. Another common response was that some kids have no other resource to teach them about such issues. Some areas the girls say they would like to see addressed more often are friendship, drugs, violence, romance, family problems and peer pressure.

Girls’ picks:

Here are some other responses, ranked by popularity, amongst the eight to 12 demo

on-line focus group.

Favorite network

1. Nickelodeon 2. the WB 3. MTV

Top shows

1. MTV’s Total Request Live 2. Friends

3. Sabrina the Teenage Witch

Favorite type of TV show

1. Comedy/sitcoms 2. Cartoons

3. Teen dramas

Shows girls say

they’ve outgrown

1. Barney & Friends

2. Full House

3. Rugrats

Favorite animated

or real-life characters

1. Olsen twins

2. Tommy (Rugrats)

3. Joey Potter (Dawson’s Creek), Sabrina, Buffy, Lucille Ball

Show with the best theme song

1. Friends 2. The Simpsons

3. Dawson’s Creek

Best story line for a TV series

1. Dawson’s Creek

2. Sabrina the Teenage Witch 3. Rugrats

What girls said:

We asked the girls on our panel to invent their own TV shows. They let their imaginations take over and came up with some fantastic ideas.

‘I’d call my show Vacation Raptor. It would be about a family who goes on vacation a lot. They stay with families in places like Japan and camp out. The kids are home-schooled wherever they go. They see volcanoes and meet interesting people. They learn the laws and customs of other countries.’ Tanisha, 9, Colorado

‘My show would be about a family that doesn’t have any huge problems-kind of like The Brady Bunch-so that I could watch it with my little brother and sister.’

Caitlin, 10, California

‘The show would be called The Cool Club. It would be about teenagers named Madison and Tia. They were not so cool, so they decided to get cool clothes like bell bottoms and stuff. They act cool too, but that didn’t get them any real friends so they decide to act like themselves and they get lots of great friends.’

Jamie, 10, Massachusetts

‘My show would be a sitcom about girls on a basketball team. It would be called The Junior WNBA.’ Sarah, 11, Oregon

‘My TV show would be about my life, I would name it Lyndsey’s Pond (get it, Dawson’s Creek?). The characters would be a circle of friends. All the guys like the girls, and one day a new guy comes into town and asks one of the girls out-you’ll have to watch to see what happens!’

Lyndsey, 13, Pennsylvania

‘I would like a show where kids could send in questions. Each show, they would pick a certain question, like how certain things work or how things are made, and they go through the steps to answer them together. It would be real kids with real questions. I would call it Idea Mania.’

Laura, 10, Minnesota

For more girl news, check out our

Reaching Girls special report on page 30.

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