How Media Affects the Development of Gender

Written by sheri lamb
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How Media Affects the Development of Gender
Children`s perception of gender is tainted by the media, research shows. (BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Intellectual circles debate about the level of impact of media on the development of gender, but the vast majority agree there is negative influence by the media. Many children learn from the media about how they are supposed to act and look when they grow up. According to Elena Beasley, a researcher from Aberystwyth University, technology is taking form as the dominant influence on the development of gender.

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Television reflects traditional dominant social values, according to research at Aberystwyth University. Girls learn from a young age that the world is controlled by men. The majority of girls aged 8 to 12 believe male news anchors are more trustworthy than female news anchors. Female news anchors are more common than in the past, but they are usually chosen only if they are beautiful, the university stated. Male anchors, however, aren't chosen as much for their looks.


While men dominate the news, current affairs and documentaries, woman are portrayed in fictional programs, such as romances, according to Aberystwyth University. This reinforces in women a media-driven idea of the roles they are expected to play in real life. Women tend to favour local, rather than national, news because they feel a sense of responsibility to be educated on the issues in their neighbourhood that might affect their family.


Boys are taught through media that they need to act in a certain physical way, according to the Media Awareness Network. Through movies and television, boys learn that men are violent to each other. Physical strength becomes an important factor in becoming a man, the media would have us believe. "Real men" are homophobic sports junkies who watch or perform in Mixed Martial Arts and other forms of combat. Boys are taught that they aren't supposed to have emotions, that if they are hurt, they shouldn't talk about it.


Discussing with children some of the messages that movies and TV shows convey to our youth can help resolve some of the negative effects, according to National PTA research. Saying something like, "It's not true. The show is wrong. Women are good at doing things other than their nails and cleaning," can go a long way toward teaching the critical thinking tools that are necessary for healthy gender development, the research says.

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