Emotions and television

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What are Children Laughing About?

This is a cooperative project about the understanding of children's humour, explicitly taking television into account.

Children enjoy laughing and they do it a lot, and presumably laughing while watching television is widespread. However, in international research the question what children are laughing about and, in particular, what aspects of a television programme they find funny, has not yet been sufficiently investigated. This is where the IZI starts and co-operates with different media researchers and communication researchers.

A. What are elementary school children laughing about and can one use this humour to enhance educational impacts ?

Blickwechsel e.V., an association for media and cultural education, awarded with the Dieter Baacke Preis in 2000, is conducting investigations, under supervision of Norbert Neuss Ph.D. (PH Heidelberg), about the humour of elementary schoolchildren. The association are aiming to bring out certain types of children's humour, their meaning for everyday life and to find opportunities to connect this to educational oriented programmes. This study employs a multi-sited research methodology: in 30 group discussions consisting of 6-8 elementary schoolchildren, their understanding of humour is differentiated. Parents' diaries, noting down scenarios of humour for 6 months, enable an approach to humour in everyday life situations (400 humour episodes in everyday life). In school essays children write about their experiences with TV and humour.

B. Pre-teens' (10- to 13-year-olds) understanding of humour in contrast to adult understanding of humour

Attractive comedy programmes for children have been investigated at the Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen 'Konrad Wolf' in Potsdam/Babelsberg under the supervision of Professor Lothar Mikos and Elisabeth Prommer Ph.D.. Referring to the Gfk-quota outstandingly successful formats have been identified: 'Die Camper' and 'Rita's Welt' as well as 'Die Simpsons' and 'Der rosarote Panther' (The Pink Panther)". These series are being analysed according to their humour. Taking this as a starting point, 8 group discussions and 20 individual interviews bring out what is funny in these programmes for children and adults respectively.

C. Overt humour in Children's TV programmes

Under the supervision of Professor Ben Bachmair, "Kassler Media Education" at the University of Kassel is conducting qualitative media analysis, carrying out an annual review of broadcast products scheduled for children 2002 and investigating the typical forms of humour in children's programmes.

D. Presumptions of producers about when a programme is funny for children

The IZI is conducting a partial study in relation to programmes that have been successful with children and which the editors presume have been experienced as funny by children. Firstly, those responsible for children's programmes comment on their programmes and consider scenes that they presume might be funny. In a second step, children watch the same material and give an evaluation what is funny for them. This qualitative study, based on video recordings, participant observation and interviews with participants ('loud thinking' afterwards) finally confronts these two different evaluations.

TelevIZIon 19/2006/E „Children – Humour – Television”.