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Messages to Children in the Media

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It is so easy to forget what kinds of messages are being portrayed to children through the media as a college age student. I for example have not watched cartoons for years and am also not a parent therefore I never see the commercials that are being broadcast to our young viewers. I've learned a lot this week through our Gender studies class about the way media targets a certain lifestyle in their toys and advertisements to children, Girls toys are mostly pink and gentle while on the other hand boy's toys are more rough and tough.

I watched a half hour of Spongebob Square pants and it was honestly kind of comical the way that the commercials were presented. Girls, who were like 9 were wearing make-up and playing with dolls that they needed to feed and change their diapers. Other commercials geared toward young girls included all things pink, even if it was similar to a boy's toy. For example the pink power-wheels Cadillac, some off road rugged vehicle all decked out in pink. Girls are also portrayed as being cooperative and more passive and less aggressive and competitive than boys. Boys on the other hand are shown seeking power, speed and physical action. Aggressive behavior is almost exclusively limited to advertisements targeting boys. Boys are also shown as being more independent than girls. (Brasted, 2010)

Among the more popular toys for girls are Barbie dolls, Bratz dolls, stuffed pets to care for and make up. The girls in these advertisements are seldom pictured away from their homes; instead they are contently playing inside in their bedrooms or in their own backyards. Commercials and products presented to boys are generally more creative, such as Legos and hobby planes. The boys in the advertisements are allowed more freedom to roam the world. They are more mobile and active. The popular toys for boys involve more action. They actively battle each other through play with sports, transformers or Star Wars action figures. There is also a clear distinction these days between an action figure and a doll. The action figure has been defined as a toy suitable for a boy to play with. Because of gender stereotypes, it is unacceptable for boys to play with dolls, but perfectly fine for them to play with action figures. The emphasis being on action rather than the caring and nurturing associated with dolls. (Brasted, 2010)

So what's the big deal if a toy is blue or pink or if it's a doll or an action figure? Isn't it just advertising trying to sell a product? The problem is that within these messages of consumption are lessons about gender roles and expectations. These advertisements specifically target children with a message of what is and isn't appropriate for boys and girls. Although these may be "just advertisements" they are also one of the places that children learn about gender roles." (Brasted, 2010)

At a young age, children are still learning about male and female characteristics and the books they read as well as the media they are presented with will have an influence on this part of their learning. Gender identity at ages 1- 3 years contains the ability to correctly label the self



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