If you haven’t been too vigilant when monitoring the movies and TV shows your kids are consuming, the sobering stats coming out of Common Sense Media might just change your mind. Entitled Watching Gender: How Stereotypes in Movies and on TV Impact Kids’ Development , the watchdog organization just released a hearty report on how media is affecting our children, and it ain’t pretty. All in all, media that upholds gender norms (for example: boys are strong, sex-obsessed, and shouldn’t express softer emotions, girls are soft, less capable, and should be extra concerned with their appearance) are limiting our kids’ relationships, career paths, and ideas about their self-worth (see the stats here ).
There is a hope to change the current situation, though. According to Debra Pryor and Nancy Nelson Knupfer (1997), “If we become aware of the stereotypes and teach critical viewing skills to our children, perhaps we will become informed viewers instead of manipulated consumers”. Moreover, the commercials evolve along with the development of a society and are the answer to many social and political changes, such as emancipation of women, growing role of individualism, globalization and revaluation of patterns and social roles. More and more advertising specialists produce non-stereotypical commercials. However, the attempts to break down the stereotypes threaten to reject the message; they affect security and well-established knowledge about the world. Hence, a society has to achieve an adequate level of social readiness, so that messages breaking gender stereotypes could be effective.