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Toddler Television

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Andrew Mei

on 13 November 2013

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Transcript of Toddler Television

Introduction
1998 Programming
2013 Programming
Analysis Process
Barney and Friends
The Big Comfy Couch
Mister Rogers'
Neighborhood

Rosie and Jim
Teletubbies
Bob the Builder
Dinosaur Train
Peg + Cat
Wild Kratts
Compare and Contrast
Childhood Development
The Final Word
Toddler Television
Cyberchase
An Analysis of Gender in Children's Programming
Andrew Mei
AP Psychology
Period 2

We Are Addicted to Television
We live in an age of technology, and the television has become a staple of daily life. Whether we are catching up on a hit comedy series or watching news headlines, we are attached to the television screen. We are addicted to the programs that are aired; we cannot resist putting down the remote.
Children Are No Exception
Among the television addicts are toddlers and young children, from ages two to seven, who spend an average of
TWO
hours per day watching TV.
Educational and Informative?
As part of the Children's Television Act of 1990, television networks must air "educational and informative" children's programming for at least 3 hours each week. But these programs often contain gender biases and stereotypes; the shows contain characters that exhibit behaviors and attitudes associated with one gender.
Children Do What They See
As children learn from their experiences, they carry out the gender roles found in children's programming, this reinforcing their notions and perceptions of gender. Therefore, it is important to uncover the impact children's television has on the development of a gender identity.
Objective and Hypothesis
This project analyzes the children's programming from two years: 1998 and 2013, a span of 15 years. All shows are from the PBS Kids programming block: a reputable and trusted source among parents for children's television whose goal is to promote childhood learning and development through its programming. The analyses will examine the role gender has in the show, and how the show's characters and plot are affected. At the end of the research, a comparison/contrast will be made to see if there is any change in gender-typing on PBS in the past 15 years.

With the ongoing reform in gender equality, it is predicted that shows will see a greater inclusion of women and more involvement from females. The shows in 2013 should be more gender-neutral than the shows in 1998.
How Shows Are Analyzed
Shows will be analyzed on the following criteria:
cast of characters, main character
characters' roles
characters' appearance
title
plotline

Shows will be given "M" or "F" points in the categories above, with "M" standing for masculine and "F" for feminine.
Cast of Characters
MAIN
CHARACTER
MALE
2 M
Points
FEMALE
2 F
Points
CAST OF
CHARACTERS
MALE
MAJORITY
1 M
Point
FEMALE
MAJORITY
1 F
Point
No single main character
BALANCED CAST
No
Point
Title
of
Show
Contains the word:
Boy
Contains a
MASCULINE
2 M points
Contains the word:
Girl
2 F points
name

1 M point
Contains a
FEMININE
name

1 F point
Plot
EXTREMELY FOLLOWS
GENDER ROLES
2 Points for the Gender
Whose Role is Followed
MODERATELY FOLLOWS
GENDER ROLES
1 Point for the Gender
Whose Role is Followed
NO GENDER ROLES
ARE FOUND
No points are given.
Character
Roles
MALE FIGURES
Portrayed as:
Scientist
Superhero
Athlete, etc.

1 M Point
FEMALE FIGURES
Portrayed as:
Princess
Doll
Nurse, maid, etc

1 F Point
Character Appearance
DRESS/CLOTHING
Shades of blue, baseball cap, etc.
1 M Point
MALES
SHORT
HAIR
1 M Point
Shown as
STRONG, COURAGEOUS
1 M Point
DRESS/CLOTHING
Shades of pink/purple, tutu, etc.
1 F Point
FEMALES
LONG
HAIR
1 F Point
Shown as
DELICATE,
THIN, FRAIL
1 F Point
It is possible for the show to receive both M and F points in a category. For example, if the show has a male character with short hair, and a female character with long hair, then the show receives both the M and F point. Additionally, if the female character has long hair and is dressed in pink, then the show would receive 2 F points.
Additional Scoring Information
From the following list of shows that aired on PBS Kids in 1998, shows that were mostly live-action, did not have a definite plot line, or had insufficient information on the Internet were removed (such shows are in red). The list was randomized and the shows were placed in random order. Then, five shows were selected randomly. Statistically, the conclusions drawn from these five randomly-selected shows can be generalized to the entire population of PBS programming in the respective year as this is an observational study.
1998 PBS Kids Programming
Adventures from the Book of Virtues
The Adventures of Dudley the Dragon
Barney and Friends
Bill Nye the Science Guy
The Big Comfy Couch
Groundling Marsh
Hello Mrs. Cherrywinkle
Holly's Magical Garden
The Huggabug Club
In the Mix
The Magic School Bus
Mister Rogers' Neighborhood
Newton's Apple
Noddy
The Puzzle Place
Reading Rainbow
Rosie and Jim
Square One Television
Teletubbies
Theodore Tugboat
Tots TV
Wimzie's House
Wishbone
Zebby's Zoo
Zoobilee Zoo

(NOTE: Arthur and Sesame Street, two shows aired in 1998, are not included as both are still currently on the air.)
Random
Selection
Shows for 1998 Analysis
Barney and Friends
The Big Comfy Couch
Mister Rogers' Neighborhood
Rosie and Jim
Teletubbies
Summary of Show
A group of kids pretend that their dinosaur toy, Barney, is alive. Barney and his dinosaur friends, BJ and Baby Bop, help the kids exploring the world around them while teaching them crucial life values and emotional responses. The development of a child's emotional and social ability is addressed in this show, commonly through musical numbers.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
3 M
Score Report
0 F
The majority of the characters are male, along with the main character Barney.
TITLE
1 M
0 F
Featuring a masculine name, the show receives one M point in this category.
PLOT
1 M
1 F
The show moderately follows gender roles for both genders.
ROLES
1 M
1 F
Similar to plot, both the show's male and female characters portrayed roles that were associated with the gender.
CHARACTER
APPEARANCE
2 M
2 F
Both male and female characters had the hair and traits components, but there in dressing, Barney, a male figure is in purple.
GENDER
SCORE
8 M
4 F
The show is more MALE-centered.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
0 M
Score Report
3 F
The show revolves around Loonette the Clown and her doll Molly- a heavy female presence
TITLE
0 M
0 F
Title does not have any of the criteria to receive points.
PLOT
0 M
2 F
The plot is extremely focused on the roles of females as being house-bound and as care-takers.
ROLES
0 M
1 F
Again, the show portrays women as being subjected to the confines of a home, and girls playing with dolls.
CHARACTER
APPEARANCE
2 M
2 F
Even though there aren't that many male characters in this show, they are dressed very manly and they have short hair. Loonette is dressed in pink.
GENDER
SCORE
2 M
8 F
The show is more FEMALE-centered.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
2 M
Score Report
0 F
The main character is Fred Rogers, while the show contains too many recurring characters and guests to keep track of gender.
TITLE
2 M
0 F
Although not specifically the word "boy," the title receives the 2 points because "Mister" clearly alludes to a male figure, like "boy."
PLOT
0 M
0 F
The show does not follow gender roles, probably as a result of its variety of plotlines and characters.
ROLES
1 M
1 F
The show does exhibit a few gender roles. Females are portrayed as care-takers, and males are businessmen.
CHARACTER
APPEARANCE
2 M
2 F
Both male and female characters had the hair and dress components.
GENDER
SCORE
7 M
3 F
The show is more MALE-centered.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
0 M
Score Report
0 F
There is no main character in the show, and there is a balance between males and females.
TITLE
1 M
1 F
Featuring a masculine and a feminine name.
PLOT
0 M
0 F
The show does not seem to follow any gender stereotypes.
ROLES
0 M
0 F
No definite roles were found for this show in the analysis.
CHARACTER
APPEARANCE
2 M
2 F
Both Rosie and Jim were dressed in gender-associated outfits; Rosie has long hair and Jim has short.
GENDER
SCORE
3 M
3 F
The show is more MALE-centered.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
0 M
Score Report
0 F
There is no main character and males and females are balanced.
TITLE
0 M
0 F
No name nor gender words in the title of the show.
PLOT
0 M
0 F
The show does not follow gender roles to a great extent.
ROLES
0 M
0 F
No gender roles were identified. However, it is interesting to note that the female characters, Laa-Laa and Po, exhibited athletic qualities, such as playing ball and riding scooters.
CHARACTER
APPEARANCE
0 M
0 F
Teletubbies do not have hair, nor are they dressed. Interestingly, Tinky-Winky, a male character, is colored purple.
GENDER
SCORE
0 M
0 F
The show is gender-NEUTRAL.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
3 M
Score Report
0 F
Bob is the main charcter of the show, and the majority of characters are male.
TITLE
1 M
0 F
The title contains a masculine name.
PLOT
1 M
1 F
The show follows moderately gender roles. Males are construction workers and females have to listen to the orders of men.
ROLES
1 M
1 F
Males are portrayed as strong, while women are seen as being weaker than men.
CHARACTER
APPEARANCE
3 M
0 F
The male characters are dressed in construction outfits and have short hair. Wendy, Bob's counterpart, has her hair in a short ponytail, and is also dressed in a construction outfit.
GENDER
SCORE
9 M
2 F
The show is more MALE-centered.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
1 M
Score Report
0 F
The majority of characters is male.
TITLE
0 M
0 F
No name nor gender words in the title of the show.
PLOT
0 M
0 F
The show does not follow gender roles to a great extent.
ROLES
1 M
1 F
Female characters are seen as more caring than males, while men are usually the ones who are resourceful and knowledgeable.
CHARACTER
APPEARANCE
2 M
2 F
Males and females are dressed according to their gender with respective hair lengths.
GENDER
SCORE
4 M
3 F
The show is more MALE-centered.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
1 M
Score Report
0 F
There is no main character, but there is a majority of male characters.
TITLE
0 M
0 F
No name nor gender words in the title of the show.
PLOT
0 M
0 F
The show does not follow gender roles to a great extent.
ROLES
1 M
0 F
Buddy, the orange male dinosaur, is often the one making hypotheses in regards to new discoveries, indicating males having more innovation and curiosity.
CHARACTER
APPEARANCE
1 M
1 F
Although dinosaurs do not have hair, the color of the dinosaur (and eyelashes) was the defining factor in this category.
GENDER
SCORE
3 M
1 F
The show is more MALE-centered.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
1 M
Score Report
0 F
The majority of characters is male, while both Peg and Cat are the main characters; Cat is male.
TITLE
0 M
1 F
A feminine name is in the title.
PLOT
0 M
0 F
The show does not follow gender roles to a great extent.
ROLES
0 M
0 F
No gender roles were identified. But, it seems like Peg has to have Cat along when it comes to solving problems with mathematics.
CHARACTER
APPEARANCE
2 M
1 F
Both males and females in the show have gender-associated hair length. Peg is dressed in a girl's outfit, while Cat does not have an outfit.
GENDER
SCORE
2 M
3 F
The show is more FEMALE-centered.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
1 M
Score Report
0 F
There is no main character but there are more males in the cast.
TITLE
0 M
0 F
No name nor gender words in the title of the show.
PLOT
1 M
0 F
The show moderately follows gender roles, especially with males being more adventurous and brave. Females are left out of the physical action.
ROLES
1 M
0 F
Similar to plot, males are portrayed as being more adventurous, courageous and brave. Females are more quiet and organized.
CHARACTER
APPEARANCE
2 M
2 F
Males and females are dressed according to gender with respective hair lengths.
GENDER
SCORE
5 M
2 F
The show is more MALE-centered.
Summary of Show
Loonette the Clown and her doll Molly spend time at home on and around their "big comfy couch." The two are always seen playing games, such as tea party, and Loonette serves as the caretaker for seemingly-younger Molly.
Summary of Show
The show, hosted by Fred Rogers, is an assortment of both real-life elements and fictional plotlines. Mr. Rogers often invites guests to his home, reads stories to viewers, and sings an occasional song. At other times, he takes the Trolley to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, and explores the land of puppets with the viewers.
Summary of Show
Rosie and Jim are two ragdoll puppets; the two are also a couple. They live on a houseboat, traveling around presumably-England by river and exploring whatever comes their way down the river. The two are curious about the world around them, and they enjoy learning new things.
Summary of Show
Four creatures who live in Teletubbyland explore the world around them through interactions with the narrator. Tinky-Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po learn about life and values including compassion and friendship. The Teletubbies communicate using semi-comprehensible toddler talk, and their famous catchphrase, "Eh-oh!"
The exact process for the 1998 shows was performed for the list of shows in 2013:

From the following list of shows that aired on PBS Kids in 2013, shows that were mostly live-action, did not have a definite plot line, or had insufficient information on the Internet were removed (such shows are in red). The list was randomized and the shows were placed in random order. Then, five shows were selected randomly. Statistically, the conclusions drawn from these five randomly-selected shows can be generalized to the entire population of PBS programming in the respective year as this is an observational study.
Angelina Ballerina
Bob the Builder
Caillou
The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That
Clifford the Big Red Dog
Curious George
Cyberchase
Dinosaur Train
Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood
The Electric Company
Fetch! with Ruff Ruffman
Franny's Feet
Martha Speaks
Peg + Cat
SciGirls
Sid the Science Kid
Super Why!
Thomas & Friends
Wild Kratts
WordGirl
WordWorld

(NOTE: Arthur and Sesame Street are not included in this list as both were on the air in 1998.
Random
Selection
Shows for 1998 Analysis
Bob the Builder
Cyberchase
Dinosaur Train
Peg + Cat
Wild Kratts
PBS Kids 2013 Programming
YouTube Video: "Trading Places"
Fast forward to the location marked by the arrow.
Summary of Show
The title character, Bob, is a construction worker. He and his crew of construction machines go around the town to build new buildings and repair any damages found. Bob's signature catchphrase is "Can we fix it?" in which his team replies, "Yes we can!"
Summary of Show
Three human kids--Matt, Jackie, and Inez--enter "Cyberspace," the internal world of computers. Working with their friend Digit, a cyber-bird, the team helps defend the virtual world against the evil deeds of Hacker, the chief antagonist. The "cybersquad" solves problems using mathematical concepts.
Summary of Show
Four dinosaurs and their parents explore the prehistoric time periods--the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous eras--via the so-called "Dinosaur Train." The Pterodactyl family learns more about fellow dinosaurs and the children often inquire about the dinosaur world. This show promotes scientific inquiry and reasoning.
Summary of Show
The show, pronounced "Peg PLUS Cat," is about a young girl named Peg who is fascinated by mathematics. She and her Cat solve everyday problems and predicaments using mathematical concepts, such as counting and adding. This new show is obviously focused on the promotion of mathematics.
Summary of Show
The Kratt brothers, Martin and Chris, are two animal explorers. This show contains some live bits where actual animals are featured, but the majority of the show is animated. The animated parts all contain a similar plot: a villain seeks to destroy animals and their habitats, and the Kratt brothers and their friends devise ways to stop the villain to save the animals. This show promotes scientific exploration and analysis, as well as wildlife literacy.
Adding up the "M" and "F" scores for each show in the respective year gives a total network gender score for the year. As with the shows, a larger "M" score indicates the network is more male-centered, and a larger "F" score means PBS is more female-centered.
20
M

1998
18
F

23
M

2013
11
F

In both 1998 and 2013, PBS is more MALE-centered.
Male score increased from 20 to 23.
Female score decreased from 18 to 11.
Gender roles are more defined in children's programming in 2013.
Female characters are often accompanied by a male character.
Despite a heavy focus on promoting literacy and STEM fields, gender-typing has gone unnoticed and continues to strengthen.

According to the gender learning theory, children imitate what they view on television, and at an early stage in their cognitive development, they learn to "
accept the stereotypes
" in the shows (Boyse). With retention rates of information higher in early childhood, such gender stereotypes and behaviors are
engrained into the child's knowledge for life, contributing to the development of the child's gender identity
. Young boys and girls will begin to associate more with one gender and develop a sense of being either male or female—a concept of the
gender schema theory
—through the programming they watch on television. Later in childhood, children will go accordingly to the televised gender roles and

incorporate them into their desires and ambitions
: boys who want to be construction workers (similar to Bob the Builder) and girls who want to play with dolls all day long (like Loonette in The Big Comfy Couch). In the short-term, children will carry the gender associations they have learned, and live accordingly to the roles portrayed on children's shows; these roles are also commonly reinforced through parents, relatives, friends and classmates. The environment around the child—the "nurture" aspect of child-rearing—implements these gender biases into the child's knowledge. Additionally, watching television in general
takes away crucial time for healthy interactions between toddlers and adults, critical for the development of social, emotional, and cognitive skills
(Hogan).
This gender-typing can be detrimental to society as a whole in the long run. In the current time where humans are advocating and demanding change, especially in gender equality, the
future generations are being taught the biases and stereotypes

which have traditionally viewed women as inferior and subordinate to men. As a result, the children who watch the gender-typed television shows will carry on the behaviors and attitudes they have learned into the future,
lengthening the time needed to achieve equality between males and females
. Based on the change in gender scores between 1998 and 2013 found in the research favoring males, it seems as if the "battle of the sexes" will not be over anytime soon.

Former PBS Kids Branding
Current PBS Kids Branding
(as of October 2013)

On a Sidenote...
Full transcript