Children's Animated TV Programs: A Content Analysis

By Lambert, E. Beverley; Clancy, Susan | Australian Journal of Early Childhood, June 2004 | Go to article overview

Children's Animated TV Programs: A Content Analysis


Lambert, E. Beverley, Clancy, Susan, Australian Journal of Early Childhood


Introduction

This article describes the application of content analysis methodology (Bauer, 2000) to a popular animated television series for preschoolers: Bob the Builder. The method described was developed as an instrument of analysis for a larger study currently being undertaken by the above authors in relation to how children use their multiliteracies to make sense of the media programs they watch. The term multiliteracies (The New London Group, 2000) refers to the range of literacies required to create and interpret multimodal texts. These are texts chat use any combinations of the following modes of meaning: linguistic, visual, auditory, spatial, and gestural. Examples of such texts include television shows, computer games, and radio broadcasts.

The influence of Bob the Builder programs on preschoolers and their parents is indeed a strong one in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia (ABC television shows it daily). An Internet search using that title revealed more than 20,000 sites and clearly illustrates how important this television program has become in the commercial world, where it generates business in books, music, toys, clothes, children's themes, wallpaper, and other interior designs.

The television series of Bob the Builder is a multimodal text and as such relies upon the use of combinations of linguistic, visual, spatial, auditory, and gestural cues in the transmission of what Chatman (1978) describes as a visual narrative or story. These cues consist of elements such as visual and spatial effects (camera angles, lighting, colour, positioning of characters, appearance of main characters) and elements of sound (voice-overs, music, songs/chants, rhythms, style of language). As well as these influences there are also the more easily recognised overt narrative elements such as plot and the roles of characters (Chatman, 1978).

Clearly it can be seen that more than one layer of meaning exists for child viewers to interpret, and this is a central issue in much of the debate about multimodal texts. In trying to determine how children interpret these various layers of meaning when viewing Bob the Builder, a coding framework was developed for analysing the content of the program's episodes. It is presented here as a theoretically grounded research method (Bauer, 2000; Silverman, 2001) that could have a wider application to similar multimodal texts.

What were the assumptions underlying the study?

Since the 1970s there has been a strong focus on redressing gender stereotyping in children's literature, but animated television programs for preschoolers do not appear to have received the same attention (Eaton & Dominick, 1991; Hilton, 1996; Signorielli, 2001). Initial impressions of Bob the Builder, for instance, present a modern day story-line with a liberated female character (Wendy). However, the supposedly modern Wendy is depicted merely as a mirror image or clone of Bob, and she works purely to organise and support him. As such, Wendy is a key pivot in the program, yet Bob always comes across as the main character and the real worker. Such social messages can be interpreted as contradictory. This premise has led the authors of this article to examine the social assumptions underlying the series.

Consideration also needs to be given to the fact that preschoolers' cognitive ability to think analytically about what the media presents to them is limited. Therefore they are particularly vulnerable to misrepresentations or inconsistencies about gender, adults' work, relationships, and other aspects of daily life (Arthur, 2001; Marsh, 1999; Emmerich, 1981; Signorielli, 1984; Williams & Best, 1990).

As a result of these factors, the research aim for this phase of the project was to develop a coding frame for the analysis of the Bob the Builder TV program. It was envisaged that such an analytical tool could be used as a basis for analysing other multimodal texts for preschoolers when the gender representation of key characters is being considered. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Children's Animated TV Programs: A Content Analysis
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.