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The children`s television programs have been associated with quit a number of stereotypes. The programs have over the years been analyzed and expansively documented based on the pervasive gender stereotyping both in men and women characters as portrayed in the programs, the emotions, and the behaviors enacted by kids towards the various programs (Calvert, 1999, p.231).Calvert adds that even though television programs are microcosm of the overall cultures, the portrayals as perceived by kids can alter or reinforce their gender stereotypical values and conducts in a number of ways (Calvert, 1999, p. 243).
As a result of the 1990s law enactments on the children’s television programs which required the TV stations to provide only those children’s programs that were educational and informational, there was a probability that the pro-social values and non-gender issues dominated the television programs for children (Eagly & Crowley, 1986). Many studies have however continuously posited that there are plenty of gender stereotyped contents in the programs which can potentially impact on the conducts and traits of the children (Barner, 1999; Calvert, Stolkin, & Lee, 1997). In fact, the American cultural believes still enforce that boys stick to their masculine behaviors and that girls should be girls, not girls disguised as boys (Ruble & Martin, 1998).
About 20 programs were selected, watched and analyzed within a span of ten days. The programs were inclusive of the WWE Wrestling, the New Adventure(New Adventures of Captain Planet, 1990).The Storm Over paradise, Its you, Tom and Jerry, Where are you, The Real adventure(The Real Adventures, 1996). The promise, No-Go Zone, Jonny Walker, The Quest and The Jestons. The programs were randomly selected on the basis of gender presentation and timeframes. All the characters in all the programs that were chosen were human beings ranging between boys and girls, men and women. Each of the episodes were then analyzed stereotypical and on the basis of the children reactions and behaviors towards the programs. For instance, the concentration that the girls gave to “WWE wrestling” as compared to the boys in comparison to how the boys reacted to the “Storm over paradise” in relation to girls, and how both the girls and the boys perceived the “Tom and Jerry” program which is more of educational than commercial. The impact of stereotypes was then deduced from the general findings.
Findings and discussions
The findings of the Former Federal Communication Commissioner, Nicholas Johnson revealed that children begin accessing the television programs from their very early ages, as early as two years (Thompson 1995, p.415).The findings further expounds that since at that very tender age the children still have some difficulties distinguishing between realities and fantasies, they are vulnerable to the portrayals of all gender types displayed on the television programs, more so the cartoons which literatures have shown that constitute the largest percentage of the children`s television programs.
Witt also found that in addition to the parental role of nurturing their children and the influence of peer groups, the media played a significant part in reinforcing the children`s behaviors, stereotypical believes and their general perception of the world (Witt 1997, p. 254).It is thus presumed that children are likely to apply the portrayals of females and males they watch in the programs as models to their own gender roles and behaviors, in trying to assimilate the dominant or the prevailing cultural code of conducts (Thompson & Zebrinos, 1995). And as had been revealed by a number of studies, it would only be recommended that the television programs that the children watch are scrutinized and monitored keenly.
In an attempt to ascertain an elaborate understanding of the unfolded literatures and commentaries pertaining to gender stereotypes in children`s television programs, this essay seeks to reflect on the synonymous scenarios that had been observed after conducting a preliminary research on the programs and reactions of children toward a number of programs. In the ground work, about 20 programs meant for children were coded and analyzed. The findings were that in all the programs, there was generally a great disparity on the portrayal between males and females, in which case the male characters were portrayed as brave, aggressive, authoritative, violent and strong, while their female counterparts were portrayed as weak, unauthoritative, non0aggrassive, corwadice and so forth. These portrayals were then observed on the conducts and actions of children whereby boys would be seen behaving violently just after watching a violent program like wrestling while the girl child would be seen struggling to simulate the roles played by the female characters in the programs they just watched.
Many other studies had been done to justify the relevance of similar findings, the case of Thompson and Zebrinos studies in the 1990s. Thompson and Zebrinos studies focused on the program characters, their physical appearances and gender relations from which they found that the male characters dominated the children television programs and with the female characters being portrayed as weakly defined creatures associated majorly with the materialistic roles (Thompson & Zebrinos, 1995).