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TELEVIZION No. 16/2003/1

Children's Fantasies and Television

Television kills the imagination, according to common theory on the relationship between children and TV. But the creation of new from already existing things (Gruber) and the ability to form mental images is innate (Etienne Klemm). Fantasy is stimulated when experiences and emotions are struck, resulting in accommodating gaps. In the medium of the book they are doubtless mainly visual. By comparison, television seems to supply "everything" and to occupy the kids' fantasy on a one-to-one basis. The links are in fact far more complex, as illustrated by the articles written by psychologists, educational scientists and those occupying responsible positions in production.

(Children's) television can open up gaps for the development of fantasy, which is corroborated in theory and revealed in practise by their essays (e.g. Neuss). In order to comprehend these links, we have to observe children more sensitively and allow ourselves to get involved in their worlds. For then we find ourselves confronted with the kids' invisible friends, who may be called Ernie from "Sesame Street", for example (Taylor). Violence can also be found in children's fantasies, however, they interpret it in their own special way (Jones). The kids' fantasy is not destroyed by television, but there are visible links. Two thirds of the nigh on 200 "big daydreams" of 8- to 9-year-olds, ascertained in the international IZI study, reveal media traces on - but mainly from the leading medium of television. Children are thus not defenceless victims but include parts of television in the mental or inner images. For those active in the field of television this means considerable responsibility and a great challenge. Research supporting programme production (Singer, Rogge) can provide significant information. The ways editorial staff approach this responsibility, how they attempt to involve and initiate fantasies, and where they see the limits are expressed in this volume on the subject of "Children's fantasies and television".

Maya Götz
Head of the International Central Institute for Youth and Educational Television


Thomas Gruber
How much fantasy does the future need?

Fantasy is the power to create new things from existing things. This is an ability future generations will urgently need. Public broadcasting corporations must take the responsibility for our children seriously and support their imagination with quality.



Ruth Etienne Klemm
The formation of inner pictures - An overview
Inner pictures arise from experience; they are always connected to emotions and closely linked to interactions. The ability to "image" is innate and begins in babyhood. Hence television does not have the power to "out-image" children, but it does have a high level of responsibility for providing supportive and not obstructive images.

Marjorie Taylor
Children's imaginary companions
Children invent fantasy companions that assume a whole variety of forms, ranging from children, animals, and ghosts to even droll characters such as the "Butcher Shop Guy" or a 160-year-old commercial traveller. The kids really enjoy these active "pretend plays". They experience no loss of contact with reality, but enrich their everyday lives as a result.

Gerard Jones
Battle-Zord Nu-Nu meets Power Ranger Po
Adults are often concerned about violence and violent media heroes in children's role play. But seen from the children's perspective, play fighting is not automatically to be equated with real agression.

Maya Götz
Fantasies of fighting and fighters
One of the current trends in children's culture is Dragon Ball Z. Boys are fascinated by the characters, by their strength and invulnerability. They integrate the series into their fantasies in order to feel more secure or to be able to control themselves better, but also for reasons of self-defence.

Norbert Neuss
Gaps for fantasy in children's films - Television and the aesthetic of reception
Gaps for fantasy are created not only in books but also in art as well as the television film. They are produced in the gaps that stimulate activity on the part of the recipients/viewers. These gaps can be created deliberately, for instance, by means of metaphors, symbols, direct mode-of-address, a feeling of togetherness, or abilities conducive to fantasy.

Maya Goetz, Dafna Lemish, Amy Aidman, Hyesung Moon
The role of media in children's make-believe worlds
Children seem to have quite similar make-believe worlds across cultural borders. Television plays a significant role in many fantasies, but only certain parts attractive for children are extracted. They serve to symbolize experience, to further the self-image and promote communication.



Children's fantasies and programming
Statements from the staff responsible on the opportunities of involving children's fantasies in their TV programme

Ralf Gerhardt
The Fantastic Film Factory. Children's TV stories
In the Fantastic Film Factory, a campaign launched by Disney Channel, children wrote the stories themselves. The stories are powerful, frequently the product of the kids' direct environment. They are about experiences in everyday life, they do not shrink from conflicts and disputes, but they always have a happy end.

Charlotte Cole
Imagine that! The importance of fantasy on "Sesame Street" co-productions around the world
Sesame Street deliberately tries to promote the kids' powers of imagination; it intentionally offers gaps for stimulating the imagination and promoting "pretend plays" as well as creative fantasies.



Jan Uwe Rogge
Fantasy, emotion and cognition in "Sesame Street" - Notes on the framework stories
Children have a magical-fantastical interpretation of reality. They like simple, clear stories featuring fairy-tale elements that they can occupy with their imagination. A reception study on Sesamstraße discovered this particularly in the case of the Muppet stories and the character Pepe. In several one-off films the kids felt they had not been taken seriously, however.

Dorothy G. Singer
Television and its potential for imagination
Television can stimulate imaginative play and it can be a wonderful teacher when it considers the possibilities and prerequisites of children. Many years of research have produced important evidence for this.