Of course, most parents and experts agree that children should not spend excessive amounts of time viewing television programs, but the results of a recent study by researchers at Indiana University suggest that watching television is particularly detrimental to little girls and black kids.  Their study, described on the Toronto Sun website’s article “TV Bad for Kids’ Self-Esteem, Unless They’re White Boys,” suggests that the constant images of characters of the same gender and ethnic background has a positive effect on white boys.  Nicole Martins, co=author of this study, explains that the self esteem of white boys is raised because of the typical roles of white male characters, “You tend to be in positions of power, you have prestigious occupation, high education, glamorous houses, a beautiful wife, with very little portrayals of how hard you worked to get there.”

The results show that little girls and black boys do not see many positive television characters that match them.  Martins asserts, “If you are a girl or a woman, what you see is that women on television are not given a variety of roles.  The roles that they see are pretty simplistic; they’re almost always one-dimensional and focused on the success they have because of how they look, not what they do or what they think or how they got there. This sexualization of women presumably leads to this negative impact on girls.”  While white boys are most positively affected by the roles of white males on television, the impact on black boys is the exact opposite.  Martins explains, “Young black boys are getting the opposite message: that there is not lots of good things that you can aspire to,” she said. “If we think about those kinds of messages, that’s what’s responsible for the impact.”

It is in our sons’ best interests to make every effort to expose them to as many positive black male characters on television whenever and wherever we can find them on television.