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?


  1. If my children were still little, I might ban TV from the house.

  2. Great post
    It is very disturbing...
    I personally don't have kids .. but when I look at my friends children .. it really makes me wonder what this world is going to be like when they grow up .. :(
    But still can make a diffrent right ? bringing up our kids in different way :)

  3. We don't watch any TV. Mom is even thinking of canceling our cable! The only thing we will miss is the Thanksgiving parade. Hahaha! The only thing we watch is some things on Netflix, like "LOST" & "Fame"!! :D Hehe


  4. Great post indeed! Truly concerning, the messages to kids these days:)

  5. This is fascinating, and disturbing. Thanks for the thoughtful post.

  6. Interesting post. Luckily my little one is only three and we let her watch mainly Nick JR and PBS cartoons, which are commerical free and mainly preschool lessons. I shudder to think what I am going to have to deal with when she is a teenager.

    One thing I saw that burned me up was sketchers shape ups for little girls. Sorry - I don't think my daughter needs to worry about the shape of her ass yet.

  7. As my daughter Jordan stated above, we don't watch tv, and at lunch today I was discussing canceling cable! We do have Netflix, which I adore, but I refuse to watch violent, hateful movies and so we stick with light, educational and fun. We'd all much rather pick up a book than sit down in front of the television anyday! :)

  8. Jordan and Simply Smitten, I think you are amazing!

    Nowadays TV temptation is too much and raising children the way you do, Simply Smitten, is so rare!

  9. Found you via the Etsy Blog Team! Can't wait to read more posts. Your blog is lovely. :)

  10. Wow. We don't have children yet (other than our dog!), but this is definitely disturbing. I remember watching a lot of Sesame Street when I was a little girl, and not much else. It's sad to see all of the forceful, negative words that come up in relation to characters that are a part of everyday life for many kids today. Thank you for sharing this. I hope more people take note!


  11. My children don't watch a lot of the mainstream programs..They watch stuff on the history channel or the discovery channel..when they do watch tv. Most times they would rather curl up with a book. My youngest is working her way through one of Madeleine L'Engle's series. (A Wrinkle in Time) Mostly they feel that a lot of the shows on tv portray girls as stupid weak creatures or mannish and both of those stereotypes get them mad. Love your blog!

  12. Thank you Kanelstrand, what a wonderful comment to read! Your blog is interesting and inspiring, a definite favorite! :)

  13. Wow, seeing the word clouds really makes certain things stand out. When my kids were little, I wanted them to avoid television - not so much for the messages that tv conveyed, but simply because I wanted them to DO things, not just sit around. I definitely censored most of their programming, limited their viewing to a couple of hours on weekends, keeping it PG (TV parental controls are great)and even cutting out some cartoons that I found unacceptable - yes, I watch a lot of kids tv to make sure I know what's going on.

    Now my kids are 14 & 16 - and many of the parental controls have come off the television (pg-14 is finally allowed here!), but I still limit their hours and censor what I think is appropriate. After all this work, and sometimes arguing with them, I'm blessed to have 2 creative kids who love to read and aren't bored when the television is turned off.