“See Jane Speak:” Gender, Race, & Kids’ Media

seejanelogosm.jpgReady to take on the Madison Ave. media machine? We are!

Shaping Youth is honored to have been selected to lead our Squashing Stereotypes interactive workshop for teens at Mind on the Media in New York this June!

Shaping Youth joins leaders in the field of advertising and media (including our fave folks at Dove Campaign for Real Beauty) to deconstruct media messaging, promote healthy body image, and inspire critical thinking to youth as we “Turn Beauty Inside Out.” Co-chaired by Shaping Youth Advisory Board Member Audrey Braschich, this exciting 3-day event offers hands-on tween & teen media fun, parent education workshops and expertise from luminaries in the field. (Hurry, early reg ends April 1st!)

We’re thrilled to be part of it all, using our rapid-fire ‘reality game’ format to reveal the ‘two-second blink’ of snap judgments as it relates to media messaging. Teens will explore media’s portrayal of gender roles, race, socioeconomic portrayal, professions, and see how cookie cutter stereotypes impact our worldviews in our everyday lives.

We’ll do a full feature on TBIO and their speaker slate soon, but first, here’s a heads-up in related news about kids’ media stereotypes happening TODAY!

Actress Geena Davis, founder of Dads & Daughters’ See Jane program, and chief researcher Dr. Stacy Smith from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication will present their findings (including the fact that but ¼ of all individual speaking characters on children’s TV were white!) at a HUMANITAS Prize master writer’s workshop at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, moderated by Cynthia Littleton of Variety.

They’ll talk about their study of 1,034 children’s television shows that reveals how characters are narrowcast in prescribed roles. Research shows that live-action children’s television programs have gone far in reducing gender and racial imbalance, but remain stubbornly entrenched in G-rated films and animated TV shows!

Let’s hope all those bigwigs in attendance HEAR what’s being said on the panel, and APPLY it to creative content!

We all know how media shapes kids’ worldviews…One look at perpetuated myths like girls being ‘bad at math,’ or ‘shop-til-you-drop mall mavens’ is enough to scream: It’s time to change media messaging to a positive channel!Go get ‘em, Geena!



  1. I think it is great to have an actress step up and lend a voice for children. I work at a daycare and I see how the media has a negative effect of my children. Children are like sponges they soak in everything. Child in today’s society watch a lot of television and it seems like the want to grow up sooner than they should. I have little girls always want a boyfriend or dance in a way they should not be. I have young boys trying to seek the approval of the female students.
    A lot of there actions come from television and they like to identify with a character. Children need to find that character they are like them and they can easily relate to. There needs to be more diversity on children’s programming. When there is the characters are usually playing the part of the best friend not usually the lead role. There are some exceptions to this but not in large part.
    “High School Musical,” is a great example there is diversity in this movie but it is too old for my four year olds. All I could hear from my four year old girls was Zac is so cute. I really doubt my children look at a teenage boy in this light but I know they must have heard this and they think this is acceptable. Actions such as this bother me all I can think is they are four and too young to have these words leave their mouths.
    It is good to see an organization care about “race, gender, kids and the media.” Also how the organization has the passion to conduct a study on children’s television shows and present their finds. I hope something will change with children’s programming. I see the first hand effects of the media and children on a daily basis.

  2. I’m sure you DO see it daily! Preschoolers are in a special developmental stage that clearly needs preserved and we need to dial down this ‘age acceleration’ of growing up too soon particularly for that pocket of youth.

    I’m about to post an interview with the author of a great book about this very thing, called “The Case for Make-Believe” as Dr. Susan Linn has done considerable research on the impact of media in this realm…particularly ‘screen time’ for the under 3 crowd. It’s scary to see the self-soothing aspects of life thwarted by the constant need for ‘screen’ stimulus…and her work in psychology reflects the inherent brain-based behavioral damage of same…

    The wee ones absolutely do NOT need screen time, they need play time…in a natural world of human interaction. The AAP and pediatricians globally concur…just wish the media/mktg. machine felt the same way with these parameters…Highly recommend the book…

    Also posted a bit about the vlaue of unstructured play here:

    What region of the country do you live in? Do you find parents and preschools comply with the AAP recommendations of limiting baby media? Curious…

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