09 May 2011

The TV Generation

I had planned a totally different post for today. As you know, Monday is A Portrait Of The Artist day, when I present to you an independent artist from the Etsy community who implements ecological sustainability in  her works.

But a striking infographics I saw in my Google Reader this morning - the day after Mother's Day - made me swiftly change plans. I am talking about two word clouds depicting male and female characters descriptions in popular kids' films and TV programs. The Kanelstrand blog is invariably dedicated to sustainability and organic living in all spheres of life and because upbringing, educating and sharing our knowledge is a part of the sustainable process I cannot pass this information unnoticed.

Stereotypical children's characters in pop culture

The author of the infographics focuses on what stereotypical characters our children are exposed to in pop culture (as presented by TV) and the words that are used to describe them. Although there are some positive qualities in the list, the most popular words tend to  deal mostly with competitiveness or have negative connotations, f.ex.: angry, brutal, menacing and calculating. 

Here is the word cloud for male characters, available full-size at Wordle.
And the word cloud for female characters, available full-size at Wordle.
Apparently leadership is a big thing with both boys and girls 

The most popular descriptions are easy to be seen. Obviously the dream boy is a strong and tough leader who is a fearless and angry sinister warrior and is also obsessed, menacing and brutal.

The perfect girl should be a strong, tough and smart leader who is beautiful, warm and sunny and at the same time a manipulative, and cold-hearted warrior.

I know that in children's stories there always has to be a good and an evil character but I am overwhelmed by the impression that evil and premature growing-up are more on the list of producers nowadays.

The era of TV parenting

Undoubtedly, what we see and experience in our early childhood plays an essential role in the forming of our characters as adults. It is obvious that our children nowadays spend a ridiculous amount of time in the virtual world of television, computers and Internet. When we were the same age the influences came from much more real-life sources like friends, relatives and neighbors. Television took just a tiny bit of our everyday, thus acting as a mere supplement to upbringing and not the main source. 

Therefore, our lack of experience in the area, is bound to be an obstacle in taking the right decisions for our children and we need to make conscious efforts to stay on the right parenting track.

If you are curious, here is another infographic by the same author about the most popular words in toy adverts, which I find even  more disturbing.

What are the TV rules in your home and how do you handle the areas of kids' pop culture you deem inappropriate?