The Influence of Television on Children's Gender Role Socialization
Witt, Susan D., Childhood Education
Children often internalize gender role stereotypes from books, songs, television, and the movies (Thorne, 1993). Television, however, is perhaps the most influential form of media (Lauer & Lauer, 1994). Research on television viewing and children's socialization indicates that television has a great impact on children's lives.
Studies show preschoolers spend an average of nearly 30 hours a week watching television; some spend more time watching television than doing anything else except sleeping (Anderson, Lorch, Field, Collins, & Nathan, 1986; Aulette, 1994; Kaplan, 1991). Nielsen Media Research has found that by the time children are 16 years old, they have spent more time watching television than going to school (as cited in Basow, 1992). As a result, children are exposed to about 20,000 advertisements a year (Stoneman & Brody, 1981). By the time a child graduates from high school, he will have witnessed 13,000 violent deaths on television (Gerbner & Gross, 1976).
Television influences both children's prosocial and antisocial behaviors (Ahammer & Murray, 1979; Bandura, 1986; Comstock & Paik, 1991; Strasburger, 1995), as well as their attitudes about race and gender (Liebert & Sprafkin, 1988).
Development of Children
As children grow and develop, they take in information and acquire knowledge at a rapid pace. As they develop their cognitive abilities, they assimilate new information and accommodate it to what they already know (Piaget, 1954). Children's ideas about how the world works come from their experiences and from the attitudes and behaviors they see around them. The young child who believes that only women are nurses and only men are doctors may have developed this understanding because the first doctor he or she saw was a man, who was assisted by a female nurse. This "man as doctor, woman as nurse" idea may have been reinforced further by parents, books, conversations with friends, and television. If the child frequently meets such gender biases and gender stereotypes, this knowledge will be incorporated into future perceptions. Keeping in mind that young children with developing minds watch many hours of television, and recalling how television reinforces gender stereotypes, it is not surprising when children develop stereotyped beliefs.
Of the various factors that help shape gender-typed behaviors, role models and imitation are extremely influential …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: The Influence of Television on Children's Gender Role Socialization. Contributors: Witt, Susan D. - Author. Journal title: Childhood Education. Volume: 76. Issue: 5 Publication date: Summer 2000. Page number: 322. © 2009 Association for Childhood Education International. COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.