Watching Gender from Common Sense


A new report released by Common Sense this week helps parents think about the stereotypes that their kids are exposed when watching television and films.

Many of the ideas are familiar – as adults, we understand the age-old limitations of casting and are all too aware of the sluggish movement of Hollywood towards inclusiveness and diversity. Actually, Creative Artists Agency just released a poll this week that indicates that diversity in casting leads to larger box office results. With Wonder Woman in theaters, and discussions about inclusiveness on the docket in Hollywood, maybe there is reason to hope that there will be some changes in production decisions.

Meanwhile, parents can interpret the world that is presented to kids by reviewing these stereotypes as you watch shows together. Deconstructing the stories you watch and images kids consume is the most important step towards instilling media literacy in the next generation. Savvier consumers are key to changing stereotypes, and while this conversation has been central in academia for a long time, it’s only beginning to really hit the news and impact content creation.  Common Sense’s report is a “white paper” or a round-up of all the existing research around kids and gender. It is presented elegantly, and is easily digested, so take a look. Click here for the key findings. 

What You Can Do? Talk to your kids!

It is always important to discuss what kids are watching so you can help them interpret what they are seeing. As you co-view shows with your family, try to be mindful about pointing out these biases. And of course, these stereotypes exist in social media, as well, and conversations about Instagram and the images presented by boys and girls are critically important to have on an ongoing basis.

Here is a wonderful blogpost from Common Sense that explains what you can discuss with boys and girls at each developmental stage and recommendations for films and shows that defy the norm.