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Kids TV Gender Forensics: Part II

They like to watch, but what do girls really want to see on TV? The second part of our three-part series on Dr. Maya Götz's study presented at the Cinekid Festival last week considers the question.
October 29, 2008

They like to watch, but what do girls really want to see on TV? The second part of our three-part series on Dr. Maya Götz’s study presented at the Cinekid Festival last week considers the question.

Götz research revealed both girls and boys are fond of stories and characters that reflect their interests and ideals, and deliver on the suspense and humor fronts. For their part, girls seem to respond most strongly to characters going through the same life experiences they’ve had. They tend to appreciate complex, multi-faceted heroes who might sometimes fail in the things they try to do, but who somehow manage to win in the end. Girls also like to laugh, even if the joke sometimes reflects their own foibles and imperfections, because it helps them work through their own problems.

Girls want to forge relationships with the characters they like, looking to these figures as role models or ideals of the types of people they have in their own lives (friends, mothers, love interests, etc). And they tend to like stories in which characters reflect on their actions to grow and mature, as well as those in which an event is scrutinized from various people’s perspectives so that they’re learning from the relationships set up in the show.

So it looks like girl power is alive and well with the fairer sex, as the study finds that girls identify with girl leads who take control of their own lives, find their own solutions to problems, and make things happen for themselves.

In terms of body image, girls are looking for kid characters to look more like kids and less like caricatured women. Götz’s research team presented 1,055 three- to 12-year-olds with three different images of Bibi Blocksberg (a well-known German cartoon character who is a kid herself) – each one with a different waist size. Slightly more than 70% of the girls who responded chose the middle image, which featured a healthy-sized waist that was neither waspish nor chubby.

And would it surprise you to learn that the same percentage of boy participants chose this realistic version of Bibi as well? Clearly, kids of both genders prefer natural, less sexualized body shapes when it comes to female characters.

Check this space again on Friday, October 31 to find our what else makes boys sit up and notice on the tube.

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