In our ‘always on’ technological world, it’s hard to know what TV shows and films are going to give your child a diverse and positive view of society.
Unfortunately, many groups remain under-represented in the media and certain stereotypes persist. Hopster has analysed 50 of the most popular shows aimed at pre-schoolers (children aged three to five years old), on free-to-air, streaming and on demand services.
It found that ethnic minorities are only included in half of the shows, and rarely in starring roles – only six out of 50 had BAME characters in the forefront. Working class families also only appear in 9% of episodes – even though Hopster says they make up 50% of the population.
The report also found no same-sex parent families in the shows analysed, with little sign of LGBTQ+ representation at all. Gender stereotypes were present in 41% of episodes, with female characters undermined by their male counterparts, and a “considerable” amount of objectification was also noted.
These are just some of the findings from the report, which saw other damaging stereotypes such as ‘bad guys’ having disabilities. None of the shows had a disabled person in a lead role, even though 22% of the population has some form of disability or impairment.
For parents wanting to expose their kids to TV shows (and a film) which are more representative of the diverse society we live in, here are some ideas…
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What is it about? It’s a show that celebrates the LGBTQ+ community so much it’s won a GLAAD Award, and features the animated adventures of a young boy who lives with three humanoid aliens called the Crystal Gems. Gender and sexuality are at the forefront, with the show depicting different types of relationships. One of the main characters was recently revealed as intersex and non-binary, and throughout the show gender stereotypes are subverted.
How can you watch it? On Cartoon Network. Common Sense Media says it’s suitable for ages 10+.
What is it about? If you want to convince a young girl that STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) are cool, Project Mc2 is a good place to start. It follows a group of four diverse girls who are part of an all-female organisation of secret agents, and they use their maths and science knowledge to help save the day.
How can you watch it? The show ended in 2017, but is available on Netflix. Common Sense Media says it’s suitable for ages 7+.
What is it about? This show exposes preschoolers to the Mandarin language and various aspects of Chinese culture. It follows Kai-lan and her animal friends going about their daily life, and has interactive elements to help kids learn Mandarin words and phrases.
How can you watch it? The Nickelodeon show is no longer being made, but you can stream it through platforms like Amazon. Common Sense Media says it’s suitable for ages 3+.
What is it about? The name is a dead giveaway – this is about a princess, but she’s not just flouncing about in pretty dresses because she’s also a knight. Nella is eight years old and goes on various adventures, and is a particularly good role model for young girls.
How can you watch it? On Nick Jr. Common Sense Media says it’s suitable for ages 3+.
What is it about? OK, this one is slightly cheating because it’s a film, not a TV show. Based on RJ Palacio’s book of the same name, it stars Auggie Pullman – a young boy with Treacher Collins syndrome (which means he has facial differences) as he tries to fit in at a new school.
How can you watch it? On Netflix. Common Sense Media says it’s suitable for ages 10+.
- Press Association