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Classics of Children’s Television – Study Series on the 50th Anniversary of the IZI

Characters such as Pippi Longstocking, Vicky the Viking and Maya the Bee – some of whom can already look back on a century of success in children’s culture – have particular meaning for children. The IZI has conducted several studies on this topic.

What is the Value of Children’s Television Classics for Children? – A Qualitative Study (2015)

In total, 429 children from Bavaria and North Rhine Westphalia were asked to choose a character who was particularly significant for them from among the classics Pumuckl, Maya the Bee, Vicky the Viking and Pippi Longstocking. They drew and described the subjective significance of the character in response to open questions. What was special about this was that the children became actors of their own pasts, retrospectively exploring their experiences with the character, the significant moments, and the practical value of these. They were also asked to evaluate, from a third-person perspective, the effect of the character on younger children, and the way their parents dealt with the character. The aim of this phenomenological approach was to illuminate the essence of classic television characters, taking into account the children’s perspective.

Holler, Andrea: Children's identity issues in a Viking animation. Vicky the Viking from the children's perspective. TelevIZIon 29/2016/E, 47-49
Haager, Julia Sophie: What makes Pippi Longstocking a classic of identity empowerment? TelevIZIon 29/2016/E, 44-46.
Götz, Maya: Maya the Bee: nice, helpful and self-confident. Munich: 2016.

Classics in the Old or the New Version? A Representative Study on Maya the Bee, Vicky the Viking and Pippi Longstocking

In a representative study of 1,210 children between the ages of 3 and 13 and their mothers, the IZI collected data on what they think of different versions of children’s television classics. In order to prompt the respondents to give their opinions of the respective versions, they were presented with picture cards. The children and mothers were given the 2D and 3D version of Maya the Bee and Vicky the Viking, as well as the live-action and animated versions of Pippi Longstocking.

What, from the Parents’ Perspective, Defines Quality in Well-Known Children’s Television Characters? 

In order to include qualitative statements by parents, we worked with well-frequented online communities. These were predominantly private Facebook groups and blogs administrated by parents, but also public Facebook pages and internet forums connected to the magazines Eltern (Parents) or familie & co (family & co), which kindly posted the link to the survey. 216 parents – the majority mothers, but also 8 fathers, with an average age of 35.7 – answered the questionnaire on children’s television classics. In it, there were some standardised and many open questions. Because of their everyday experiences as parents of up to five children between the ages of 0 and 32, they were able to offer a further important perspective on the question of the quality of material for children. 

Comparison of Various Different Aesthetic Forms of Implementation of Classics

Classics such as Pippi Longstocking have been implemented in various different ways in terms of media and their aesthetic. They have mostly been implemented as books, audio plays and in various aesthetic variants for television. The study addresses the question of how the classic material in the different formats appeals to children, and how the children relate to it as media. This study compared the adaptation of a similar story from Vicky the Viking into book, 2D animation and 3D animation. Along with media analyses of the individual forms of implementation, the IZI carried out reception analyses and interviewed 120 children between the ages of four and seven in individual interviews. The participating children watched a selected episode from the programme or listened to the story being read out.
All the reception situations were video-recorded. Using the picture-in-picture technique, the programme watched by the children was inserted into the video recording and analysed in terms of the children’s attention to and interaction with the storyline.