A recent study at Indiana University states that watching TV can harm the self-esteem of pre-teen girls by depicting females in simplistic and one-dimensional roles.
Nicole Martins, an assistant professor of telecommunications in the IU College of Arts and Sciences and co-author of the study, said that television portrayals of females also “focused on the success they have because of how they look, not what they do or what they think or how they got there.”
The study was done with 400 children, boys and girls. Those negatively affected were both African-American boys and girls and Caucasian girls. According to the researchers, Caucasian boys were the only ones whose self-esteem wasn’t affected by television because on the whole, television presents a sunny outcome for white males with power, prestige and trophy wives.
Researchers lumped all genres together for this study, so there’ s no data on how science fiction or geek-related shows like “MythBusters” fared against programs such as “Life With the Kardashians,” or how much pre-teen-targeted programming like Disney was viewed along with regular prime-time or cable shows. The main measurement was of overall hours viewed and how the children felt when they saw their older counterparts on screen.
Although many parents discuss television programs with their kids while watching together, it’s also helpful for geek girls of all ages to support shows with strong, smart and independent female characters like Claudia from “Warehouse 13” or Olivia from “Fringe.”
What characters do you think would raise kids’ self-esteem instead of cutting it down? Share in the comments!