1. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), while certain television programs may be promoted to children under two, "research on early brain development shows that babies and toddlers have a critical need for direct interactions with parents and other significant care givers for healthy brain growth and the development of appropriate social, emotional, and cognitive skills." Although the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) findings are specific to television viewing, the same recommendations and advice can be maintained for movies, which also require screen time.
1.While some aspects of sex role stereotypes are present in 3-year-olds, 4 and 5-year-olds possessed more of the traditional stereotypes. While both boys and girls are aware of behavior that is socially appropriate for their own sex, boys had more stereotyped beliefs than females (Flerx, Fidler & Rogers, 1976). When children are socialized, they gradually internalize the dominant views of the culture they live in and become motivated to construct an identity that is consistent with cultural norms (Bem, 1993).
2.According to Patrice A. Opliger (2007), as exposure to gender stereotyping increases, so do sex-typed behavior and sex-role stereotyped attitudes. Children learn their value by seeing themselves reflected in the culture. Because females are portrayed less often, girls' reflection is not readily visible and boys and girls learn that women are less valuable (Davis, 2007).
Smith and Cook analyzed the amount and the nature of portrayals of male and female characters in 101 of the top-grossing G-rated movies from 1990 to 2005. Their findings showed that fewer than 28 percent of the speaking characters (both real and animated were female), and more than 83 percent of the films' narrators were male.
A second study by Smith and Cook examined the prevalence and portrayal of single, speaking characters in popular motion pictures from 1990 to 2006. They found that 73 percent of the characters were male, and the results showed no change over time across the entire sample of films (G, PG, PG-13, and R). The researchers also found that two types of female characters were most frequently portrayed: the traditional and they hypersexual. Females were more likely to be portrayed as parents (52.2% vs. 40.4%) and in committed relationships (59.9% vs. 47.4%). G and PG rated films had the most portrayals of female characters as parents. Females were more than five times as likely as males to be shown in sexually revealing clothing and females were nearly three times as likely as males to be thin.
Because females are less likely than males to appear in G-rated films, when they do appear, the impact of their portrayal may be stronger (Smith & Cook, 2008).
The attributes stereotypically associated with females are less highly valued than those associated with males. While males are regarded as intellectual, competent, adventurous and skilled in worldly affairs, females are typically passive, dependent, and illogical individuals who are restricted to household and child-care duties (Flerx, Fidler & Rogers, 1976; Mischel, 1970).
3.Many male characters in G-rated movies are shown as dominant, disconnected and dangerous. Young children learn alarming lessons about men and boys from the movies they watch. A study by Geena Davis' See Jane program found that men and boys in children's films are portrayed as more likely to be violent and less likely to be fathers or husbands. G-rated movies are dominated by white male characters and male stories. Among the male characters, 44 percent were physically aggressive or violent, compared to 37 percent of females (USA Today Magazine, July 2006).
Numerous studies about Disney movies have found that nearly all of the movies have stereotypical portrayals of women and minorities (Ayres, 2003; Bell, Haas, & Sells, 1995; Brockus, 2004; Budd & Kirsch, 2005; Lacroix, 2004).
A study by Joe Kelly and Stacy L. Smith (2006) found that there is a huge imbalance in the number of male and female characters in movies targeted toward children and families. In the 101 top grossing G-rated films from 1990 to 2004, 75 percent of the characters were male, 72 percent of speaking characters were male, and 83 percent of all narrators were male.
4.A study of 46 white middleclass 5-year-old boys and girls enrolled in two day-care centers found that presentations of egalitarian sex role models reduced sex role stereotyping. While the egalitarian treatments impacted both boys and girls, boys were not as strongly affected (Flerx, Fidler & Rogers, 1976).
1.In order to gain peer acceptance, girls need to conform to unrealistic expectations to ensure physical perfection. Studies have shown that female audiences are self-conscious and reflexive in their approach to popular media texts. Media contribute to the cultivation of values, social norms and expectations that help shape children's self-evaluation and aspirations (Lemish, Liebes & Seidmann, 2001).
A study by Johnsson-Smaragdi and Jonsson (1994) found that high television consumption for boys during childhood was related to more positive self-esteem at the age of 21, whereas for girls, the opposite was true. One possible reason is that boys are heavy consumers of genres like sports that show active, higher status male characters who are in control. Girls, on the other hand, are heavy consumers of genres that define women through their relationships to men. Exposure to thin, sexualized female film characters can have a negative effect on teen's development. Appearance praise is especially problematic when it is given only to characters that adhere to a narrow ideal of physical attractiveness, which was often the case in the films from 1996 to 2006 that were analyzed by Smith and Cook (Smith & Cook, 2008). With time and repeated viewing, girls may become dissatisfied with how they look or who they are. According to psychologist Sarah Murren, the portrayal of the thin, sexy ideal has created a situation where the majority of girls and women don not like their bodies. This body dissatisfaction can lead to unhealthy behaviors to control weight (Smith & Cook, 2008).
2.The finding that children prefer same-sex characters reinforces the argument that children are influenced by gender-appropriate contents in media and role models (Lemish, Liebes & Seidmann, 2001).
3.Research has shown that boys have a stronger interest in sports and in action and adventure, while girls are more interested in human relationships, particularly romance and friendship. Where there is equality between genders, it can be seen as a form of female adjustment to male interests (i.e. girls are more likely to watch sports and adventure programs than boys are to watch romantic films). Girls are increasingly showing interest in traditionally masculine genres, while boys continue to show little interest in feminine genres (Lemish, Liebes & Seidmann, 2001).
(July 2006). "Movies' unfair portrayal of males." USA Today Magazine. 135: 2734, p. 6.
Ayres, B. (Ed.). (2003). The emperor's old groove: Decolonizing Disney's magic kingdom. New York: Peter Lang.
Bell, E., Haas, L. & Sells, E. (Eds.). (1995). From mouse to mermaid: The politics of film, gender and culture. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Bem, S. L. (1993). The lenses of gender: Transforming the debate on sexual inequality. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Brockus, S. (2004). Where magic lives: Disney's cultivation, co-creation, and control of America's cultural objects. Popular Communication. 2, 191-211
Budd, M. & Kirsch, M. H. (2005). Rethinking Disney: Private control, public dimensions. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press.Davis, G. (2007). "Children's media skew gender." USA Today. 19a.
Flerx, V. C., Fidler, D. S., & Rogers, R. W. (1976). "Sex Role Stereotypes: Developmental aspects and early intervention." Child Development. 47, p. 998-1007.
Johnsson-Smaragdi, U. & Jonsson, A. (1994). "Self-Evaluation in an Ecological Perspective: Neighbourhood, Family and Peers, Schooling and Media Use. In K.E. Rosengren (Ed.). Media effects and behond. Lodnon: Routledge.
Kelly, J. & Smith, S. L. (2006). Where the girls aren't: Gender disparity saturates G-rated films. www.seejane.org
Lemish, D., Liebes, T. & Seidmann, V. (2001). "Gendered Media Meanings and Uses." In S.Livingstone & M. Bovill (Ed.) Children and their changing media environment: A European comparative study. London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Mischel, W. (1970). "SexTyping and Socialization." In P.H. Mussen (Ed.) Carmichael's manual of child psychology. New York: Wiley.
Oppliger, P. A. (2007). Effects of Gender Stereotyping on Socialization. In R. W. Preiss, B. M.Gayle, N. Burrell, M. Allen & J. Bryant (Eds.), Mass media effects research: Advances through meta-analysis. (p. 199-214). Mahwah, NJ: L. Erlbaum Associates.
Smith, S. L. & Cook, C. A. (2008). "Gender Stereotypes: An Analysis of Popular Films and TV. In The Geena Davis institute on gender and media.