Children are faced with gender stereotypes all the time whether they realize it or not. The media plays a big part in this, and in many cases these stereotypes are often internalized without the children even being aware of it. There are several different forms of media, however television seems to be the most influential one. Research on television viewing and children’s socialization has even shown that television has a great impact on children’s lives.
“Children in the United States watch about 38 hours per week of television…add to this the time spent listening to the radio, watching movies and music videos, and reading, and it becomes very clear that for most children beyond infancy the media is the most potent and pervasive source of information about their social world” (Lips, 2005, 396). Television influences both children’s pro-social and anti-social behaviors, as well as their attitudes about race and gender (Liebert & Sprafkin, 1988). Children get their ideas about how the world works from their experiences and from the attitudes and behaviors they see around them. If the very first doctor that a child sees is male, and the very first nurse is female, that child will be more likely to believe that only men can be doctors and only women can be nurses. “This ‘man as doctor, woman as nurse’ idea may have been reinforced further by parents, books, conversations with friends, and television” (Witt, 2000, 322).
Research suggests that children who watch violent shows on television are more likely to behave more aggressively with peers, and children who watch pro-social behaviors on television are more likely to exhibit those types of behaviors themselves (Witt 2000). “Children who see female characters on television who are passive, indecisive, and subordinate to men, and who see this reinforced by their environment, will likely believe that this is the appropriate way for females to behave” (Witt, 2000, 323). Female children are less likely to develop autonomy, initiative, and industriousness if they rarely see those traits modeled. On the other hand, male characters