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Religion in children's television

For primary school children religion is something important in that it gives them support and a sense of direction, especially at an individual but also a social level. On children's TV, however, this topic is hardly in evidence.

Only sporadically are there any religious programmes for children, e.g. cartoon stories such as „Verbotene Geschichten” ("Forbidden stories") (KI.KA/ZDF) or „Geschichten aus der Bibel”("Stories from the Bible") (KI.KA) as well as fictional reality series such as „Vorsicht keine Enge” ("Beware! No angels"). The only regular magazine programme for children on the topic of faith is called „Anschi und Karl-Heinz”(Anschi and Karl-Heinz) (KI.KA/ZDF) and can be found in a niche of educational television by public service broadcasters: on BR-alpha. Considering what is on offer, the results of this research are very rare in this field. Here, the IZI-research project comes into operation and undertakes exploratory studies on the following questions:

Do children consider programmes on religion attractive? (2003)

What do they like within these programmes and what is perceived as boring? (2003)

How do children deal with the religious contents? (2004)

What contents do they take on board and how do they make correlations to faith? (2004)


Besides advising the programme „Anschi und Karl-Heinz”, in initial stages of this project, basic questions about the reception and acquisition of religious contents as well as the question of quality in religious programmes will be answered.


Sub-projects 2003:

In the IZI or in religious education, children (groups of ministrants) get to see two episodes of the programme „Anschi und Karl-Heinz” that deal with the topics "confession" and "baptism". Afterwards, they paint what they liked and what they didn't like that much about the programmes. Subsequently, they are interviewed about their paintings and the programme in a problem-oriented way. Additionally, creative methods such as the re-enactment of the plot and the religious rituals with rag dolls are used. In this first exploratory study that took place in spring 2003, 52 children from the age of 6 to 11 were interviewed in this manner.

Sub-projects 2004:

In religious education, children of the fourth grade saw the episode „Mehr oder Weniger” ("More or less"). Then they painted on a sheet of paper whatever was new for them or what had particularly moved them and on another one what they liked or what they did not like that much. Afterwards, they were interviewed about the paintings and the programme in a problem-oriented way. The main emphasis was on comprehension and their readings of the contents as well as the question of what they gained from the contents and which kinds of correlations they made with faith. For this second exploratory study in the summer of 2004, in total 69 children of the age of 10 were interviewed, of which 49 children were taken into account in the further evaluation.

The results were presented at the conference „Was ist Qualität?” ("What is quality?") in December 2005 in Munich.