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Black and white, male and female: Racial and Gender Differences in Adolescents' TV Diets
Unformatted Document Text:  Black and White 6 In this study we take a first step toward expanding on these ideas to see if young people are making television choices based on race and gender. With increased programming directed at young people segmented by race and gender, television may be serving as a way to strengthen identifications as a male or female or as a Black or White young person. It remains to be seen if this is overall a healthy or unhealthy trend for the culture. Age and Gender Differences in Media Choices Media research has long shown that gender is a significant predictor of media choices. Some of the first studies of children’s use of television found that girls and boys choose different kinds of programming along stereotypical lines (Himmelweit, Oppenheim, & Vince, 1958; Schramm, Lyle & Parker, 1961). Gender differences show up early. In one study of three to five year old children, twice as many girls as boys named a family cartoon (The Flintstones) as a favorite, while boys were three times as likely as girls to name a violent cartoon (Comstock, 1991). Recent studies of European and American children and adolescents have found significant and consistent age and gender preferences. From a comprehensive cross-sectional study of 6 to 16 year olds in 12 European countries, Garitaonandia, Juaristi, & Oleaga (2001) reported that both older boys and girls were less interested in cartoons than younger children. Girls between 9 and 13 years old were most interested in soap operas, but maintained a lack of interest in sports. Sports, in contrast, increased in interest for boys. In a longitudinal analysis of 9 to 12 year olds in Belgium, Roe (1998) also found increasing gender differentiation of media preferences in 11 of 15 TV genres and concluded that “it is perhaps not too much of an exaggeration to say that, in this period of their lives, boys and girls increasingly inhabit different media worlds” (p.23). Girls rated children’s programs, music, quiz and talk shows and soap operas more highly than boys, while boys preferred sports, movies and science/technology programs.

Authors: Brown, Jane. and Pardun, Carol J.
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background image
Black and White
6
In this study we take a first step toward expanding on these ideas to see if young people
are making television choices based on race and gender. With increased programming directed at
young people segmented by race and gender, television may be serving as a way to strengthen
identifications as a male or female or as a Black or White young person. It remains to be seen if
this is overall a healthy or unhealthy trend for the culture.
Age and Gender Differences in Media Choices
Media research has long shown that gender is a significant predictor of media choices.
Some of the first studies of children’s use of television found that girls and boys choose different
kinds of programming along stereotypical lines (Himmelweit, Oppenheim, & Vince, 1958;
Schramm, Lyle & Parker, 1961). Gender differences show up early. In one study of three to five
year old children, twice as many girls as boys named a family cartoon (The Flintstones) as a
favorite, while boys were three times as likely as girls to name a violent cartoon (Comstock, 1991).
Recent studies of European and American children and adolescents have found significant
and consistent age and gender preferences. From a comprehensive cross-sectional study of 6 to
16 year olds in 12 European countries, Garitaonandia, Juaristi, & Oleaga (2001) reported that both
older boys and girls were less interested in cartoons than younger children. Girls between 9 and 13
years old were most interested in soap operas, but maintained a lack of interest in sports. Sports,
in contrast, increased in interest for boys. In a longitudinal analysis of 9 to 12 year olds in Belgium,
Roe (1998) also found increasing gender differentiation of media preferences in 11 of 15 TV
genres and concluded that “it is perhaps not too much of an exaggeration to say that, in this period
of their lives, boys and girls increasingly inhabit different media worlds” (p.23). Girls rated
children’s programs, music, quiz and talk shows and soap operas more highly than boys, while
boys preferred sports, movies and science/technology programs.


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