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TELEVIZION No. 23/2010/E

Diversity in Children's TV

Every child is unique and valuable. Regardless of gender, skin colour and facial features, level of ability/disability, and parental wealth. The reality of children’s television does not reflect this. Male characters play the main role twice as often as female characters; ¾ of the characters are white Caucasian, and disabilities and chronic illnesses hardly ever feature.
There are exceptions: programmes which are not just about beautiful, able-bodied, rich white people. But these are few, and even here we need to take a close and critical look, so as not to stop at “superficial diversity” (Schlote/Otremba). The challenge here is to recognize both the opportunities and the problems presented by globalization (McMillin). In order to understand the significance of television, it is vital to put ourselves in the position of the audience, to understand how families from migrant backgrounds use television to structure their everyday lives (Elias/Lemish) and how children from diverse ethnic backgrounds involve television characters in their processes of identity construction (Hains/Puritz Cook, Götz). It quickly becomes clear how complex the processes are and how differently every individual deals with media. But even if children use television and make it their own in different, individual ways, there is no overlooking the fact that it offers some children more points of contact than others. And if girls in China, India, South Africa or Fiji cannot imagine themselves as princesses because they are “too dark” or not good enough, then it is worth asking critically whether we are really offering our children the right kind of television (Nastasia/ Uppal, Prinsloo). What do we offer children to help them value themselves, their families and their cultures? What do we offer children who have to live and work in conditions below the poverty line (Rashdi/Khooharo/Memon)? Where is the theme of disability and chronic illness dealt with in such a way that those children affected can derive strength from it, and less affected children can understand the contexts and see the person, not just the disability?
This issue of TelevIZIon brings together the latest research findings and uses information and reception studies to suggest ways to increase diversity in children’s television.

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



Elke Schlote/Katrin Otremba
Cultural diversity in children’s TV

Media analyses of international and German children’s TV show that there is still ample room for “diverse” characters and stories. Children experience diversity in their daily lives. They should find this local diversity reflected on television.

Nelly Elias/Dafna Lemish
Media, migration experience and adolescence

TV and Internet are used by children and teenagers of Russian descent and their families to cope with the task of integration in Germany and Israel; they offer a safe arena to strengthen family ties and constitute a means of linguistic and cultural orientation in the new country.

Maya Götz
Black, white, or Turkish?

Children and young people of specific ethnicity look for characters who are similar to themselves, such as when, for example, this particular ethnicity is problematised by society. Such characters must engage positively with this issue.

Divya C. McMillin
Media globalization and diversity

An increasing accessibility to TV has led to program cloning and copying but also to a development of new formats. The questions are: Does media globalization constrain the representation of diversity? Will TV consumers in future only be exposed to “universalized” images? How can diversity in representation be implemented?

S. Rashdi/A. Khooharo/R. Memon
Working children and TV in Pakistan

In Sindh, Pakistan, 300 working children in different occupations were interviewed about their TV use.

Stephanie Hemelryk Donald/Fiona Martin
Young people and social media

This study analysed one type of online self-imaging, the ubiquitous profile icon, to see how 12- to 15-year-olds represent themselves visually and what cultural markers they employ.

Rebecca C. Hains/Judi Puritz Cook
“There’s not going to be any more Hannah Montana”

How do girls with migration background use media culture to negotiate female identity? Few have considered how multicultural middle class girls grapple with media culture.

Diana Nastasia/Charu Uppal
TV princesses in the eyes of Western and non-Western girls

This comparative, qualitative study investigates how girls from different Western and non-Western countries perceive Disney’s new “exotic”, “multi- cultural” princesses.

Jeanne Prinsloo
South African girls’ imagined TV heroines

A study inquired the impact of media roles onto girl children’s construction of heroines and investigated further influencing aspects.

Peter Lemish
Culture and conflict

Conflict is produced at all levels of social life, in all cultures, and managed in many diverse ways. Accordingly, there is richness and authenticity in presenting conflict from a cross-cultural perspective that makes it an essential element in all genres of television productions for children, as well as adults, across the world.


Dafna Lemish
Under Pressure

Adelaida Trujillo/Katharina Albert

Shalom M. Fisch et al.
Crossing borders

This international study on Sesame Workshop’s multi-media project Panwapa was conducted with 4- to 7-year-olds in the US, China, Mexico and Egypt.

Elke Schlote/Matthias Schreiner
Teens, sexual diversity and TV
One dimension of diversity is sexual diversity, e.g. same-sex attraction. This article argues that, although being an intimate issue, we should bring it up in quality TV. Findings from a study with teens on 2 PRIX JEUNESSE INTERNATIONAL programmes with gay protagonists give insights into reception.

Elke Schlote/Matthias Schreiner


Anne Lassner
Meet the “Children of the World”

Interviews with 9 TV experts
Different ways to achieve diversity


Ethnic minorities and migration

Disabilities around the world