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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. 

Results: With Pippi Longstocking, mothers primarily like the image of the strong girl, and they recognise how the films console their children if they have experienced setbacks in their everyday lives. As regards Pumuckl, parents report how their children play Pumuckl at home or pretend they have a similar imaginary friend. From the parental perspective it is very helpful – especially for television beginners – that Maya the Bee’s life is not constantly in danger in the updated programme variant. Several mothers report that they saw Vicky the Viking as a girl and regret the fact that this has been lost in the current version.
In response to the question regarding which television characters the parents believed to be the most beneficial for children (they were given ten characters or character groups which they had to rank), they chose Maya, Winnie the Pooh, Pippi Longstocking, Heidi and Pumuckl (in this order) for 3 to 5 year-olds. 
The reason parents give for choosing these as the most beneficial to children is that the stories are self-contained, easy to understand, and told in a language that is child-appropriate and proceeds at a slow pace, but they also contain sufficient excitement. All of them have a positive outcome, and conflicts are resolved fairly. They are stories that have aged well and are as significant now as they were then. 

Whereas parents believe it still tends to be individual characters who convey strength and self-confidence to younger children, the characters they believe to be beneficial for older children tend to be groups. For their 6 to 8 year-old children, the parent respondents see the characters of Pippi Longstocking, followed by The Famous Five, Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver, and Michel aus Lönneberga (originally the Swedish Emil i Lönneberga – Emil of Lönneberga) as the most beneficial. Parents believe characters such as Winnie the Pooh and Maya the Bee lose almost all significance for older children. The parents emphasise that the themes which become important in the classics in question are friendship between one another, being there for one another, taking responsibility for oneself and others, and the solidarity between the heterogeneous characters in a group. The characters are, however, also described as beneficial because the parents believe they reinforce children’s self-esteem and show them that it is fine to make mistakes.