Talking to kids about racial stereotypes

Racial stereotypes abound on television, and children’s programming is no exception. The turban-wearing bad guy, the brainy Asian, and the Black basketball whiz are just a few of the stereotypes reinforced in children’s cartoons, films and TV shows. Spotting these stereotypes is often difficult for children; to them, the tomahawk-wielding Indian or the Asian karate expert is a familiar, easily-understood and often funny character. So how do you help children understand these images for what they are – oversimplified, generalizations?

Talking to kids about media violence

Talking to kids about violence in the media they consume – television, movies, video games, music and the Internet – can help them put media violence into perspective and perhaps diffuse some of its power. 

Talking to kids about gender stereotypes

Images of men and women in the media are often based on stereotypical roles of males and females in our society. Because stereotyping can affect how children feel about themselves and how they relate to others, it’s important that they learn to recognize and understand gender stereotypes in different media.

Media violence has been taken up as a public policy issue by a number of Western countries. Central to the debate has been the challenge of accommodating what may appear to be opposing principles—the protection of children from unsuitable media content and upholding the right to freedom of expression.

The video game sector is the fastest growing entertainment industry and second only to music in profitability. Global sales of video game software hit almost $17 billion U.S. in 2011. [1]

Throughout the elementary years, parents are the main gatekeepers for their children. As such, they need to be actively involved in their children’s video game playing – selecting the games, managing how much time children spend playing, and talking to them about the values in the games they like.

For most teens, playing video games is just another recreational activity they enjoy with friends. The concern is when video game playing becomes an addictive or isolating activity.

Good-quality video games offer lots of benefits to children and teens.

Sixty-two per cent of Canadian gamers are male:[1] and in a market targeted primarily at males, games that appeal to girls can be hard to find. Generally girls aren’t interested in the violent “first person shooter” games favoured by boys, and many of the girl-specific games promote stereotypical interests such as cooking and babysitting. (Industry representatives claim these topics are chosen based on their surveys of what female games want.)

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