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Gender Stereotyping In Television set Commercials Aimed At Children Multimedia Essay

Today, children dominate the advertising circumstance both as immediate and indirect consumers. Each day children are exposed to advertising images to such an extent that it's taken for granted and natural. The analysis tries (i) to identify the type of representation of children and their relationship with activities and products in three categories viz. , males only, young girls only and girls & boys commercials, (ii) to analyze whether there are sex-role distinctions in the representation of kids in television commercials targeted specifically at children, (iii) to examine the features of the television set commercial content designed for children concerning whether it is gender-stereotypical in aspect and (iv)whether children understand the gendered characteristics of commercial content and gauge the level of their understanding of the same. The study is a descriptive study. This research was embarked after to donate to a knowledge of how gender is portrayed in tv set commercials aimed at children and whether it is stereotyped. The analysis is dependant on Community Learning Theory and Cultivation Research. The findings demonstrated that television commercials are gender stereotyped.


Today children dominate the advertising situation both as immediate and indirect consumers. Increasingly more advertisements are being designed to target children which changing situation causes us to truly have a re-look on advertising. It's important to determine whether such well-designed images donate to the forming of gender personality and self-image among children. One of the important functions of advertising is to help make the audience associate and react to those images and actual commercial messages; so that it is possible that such top features of advertising might lead to identity formation either consciously or sub consciously. Children invariably encounter information about gender functions on tv, both in this content and the advertisements. As children undertake child years and adolescence, tv is an important influence on their gender role socialization. Their contact with television commercials, that are stereotypical however you like and content, may establish gendered personal preferences for particular features.

Although recently television portrayals have been seen to improve, it still refuses to adapt completely to the changing world and continues to represent traditional, stereotyped assignments for men and women in many areas, especially, adverts. Studies have suggested that tv and tv set advertising still adheres to sex-role stereotypes presenting women as dependent, emotional, domestic care-givers, while men will be the supporting 'loaf of bread winners'. Depicting a modern culture in this way has disturbing implications of the type of world children consider they you live in. If they start to see the sexes depicted in advertisements as always participating in their role in the population, they can be unaware that what they are observing is a biased and distorted view of the world. This becomes more significant because children do not have completely developed reasoning abilities plus they cannot evaluate the conveyed message, that could contain non-rational or unrealistic information that might be deceptive. Hence it becomes imperative to check out the portrayal of gender in television commercials directed at children.


The study attempted (i) to recognize the nature of representation of children and their association with activities and products in three categories viz. , guys only, ladies only and girls & young boys commercials, (ii) to investigate whether there are sex-role variations in the representation of girls and boys in television commercials targeted specifically at children, (iii) to examine the top features of the television commercial content created for children concerning whether it is gender-stereotypical in mother nature and (iv)whether children understand the gendered nature of commercial content and measure the degree of their understanding of the same.


The analysis is a descriptive one, the conceptual construction based on Community Learning Theory and Cultivation Research. This exploration was embarked upon to contribute to a knowledge of how gender is portrayed in tv commercials aimed at children and whether it's stereotyped. At the same time, it also tried out to analyze how small children interpret media wording. At the essential level, this research can be reduced to both major elements of wording and audience. The quantitative technique of content evaluation was chosen to explore the commercials and concentration group interview was used to gauge the understanding degrees of the kids.

Content Analysis

The purpose of the analysis was to find whether there are any habits in terms of the creation techniques and the overall presentation with reference to gender portrayal in television set commercials specifically aimed at children; and, content evaluation seemed the most appropriate approach. It is an analytical way predicated on the coding and quantification of various components of a commercial in television set. It involves establishing categories and keeping track of the amount of times when these categories are repeated in a wording (Silverman, 1993). At the basic level, the goal of the method is to identify the type of the comparative habits within and between units of data. This nature of content examination has made this technique suitable and applicable to the recognition of possible gendered stereotyping in the industry sample found in this analysis.


Focus group research consists of organized debate with a decided on group of individuals to get information about their views and activities on a subject. Concentrate group interviewing is specially fitted to obtaining several perspectives a comparable topic. The main purpose of target group research is to sketch upon respondents' attitudes, feelings, beliefs, encounters and reactions in ways in which would not be feasible using other methods. These behaviour, feelings and values may be partially independent of a group or its cultural setting, but will be discovered via the interpersonal gathering and the relationship which being in a target group includes. A concentration group enables the researcher to gain a more substantial amount of information in a shorter time frame.

In order to evaluate children's understanding of tv set advertising and information about gender action in particular, the researcher conducted a target group study. The test for concentrate group consisted of 30 elementary school children old group 5-6, children, girls, percentage being 60:40. Each student was from an alternative school within the town of Coimbatore and they all were fundamentally from a middle income background. Each of them had television collections at home and acquired the habit of watching tv set in the evening, especially the children's programs in the regional channel.

The children were shown a tv programme combined with the sample commercials. Immediately after watching the television set program, a chat was initiated among the children to go over about the advertisements that they had just observed. The dialogue was about the romance between gender and the various other factors like activities, connections, adjustments, etc. , in television commercials. Their reactions were mentioned down carefully.


Hypothesis One: Tv set commercials situated at kids and television advertisements positioned at young ladies have different creation features.

Hypothesis Two: Tv set commercials targeting girls and television commercials targeting

boys use different editing and enhancing techniques.

Hypothesis Three: Gender tasks are stereotyped in television commercials aimed at children.

Hypothesis Four: There are more advertisements aimed at guys than at girls or for both.

Hypothesis Five: Children aged 5 & 6 years are able to distinguish between programs and commercials and understand the messages (gender stereotyping) in advertising.

Sample Selection

The sample was convenience and purposive sample of children's commercial development videotaped between 5pm and 6 pm covering a amalgamated week, for one year. This was consistent with Doolittle and Pepper's study which was called as representative of the weekend in that it didn't occur near a major trip and was within the perfect viewing season (Doolittle and Pepper, 1975). Thus, although the sample had not been random, all conditions of the year were contained in the sample. In this manner, the commercials were not biased and only summer time related products or winter specific items.


General Findings

The study analyzed 118 television commercials shown during children's programs through the weekdays at perfect time from 5 pm to 6 pm. 91 of the 118 advertisements (71%) were placed at specifically one gender(n=91), either kids or girls. The rest targeted both children. Among sole gender commercials, less than 1 / 4 of the advertising were directed only at young ladies (20%) and the other 80% of the advertisements were targeted at boys. This facilitates the findings of many of the prior studies.

With respect to the products advertised during children's programs, 50 % of the advertising were targeted straight at children and the other 50% were directed at parents through children. There were also advertisements for adult's products that have been neither employed by children nor have have any child model in them like in the case of Head of hair Dye (Godrej) and Shaving razor (Gilatin). Among the salient features was that the original categories (toys, candies, treats, food & cereals) constituted only 50% of the full total sample and the gadgets category completing absent.

20% of the advertising were for products in the purchase which the decision designers were parents: but children affected them in the decision-making process. This is revealed during the focus group connection with the kids. They said that they asked their parents for most products they saw on television which may or may not be helpful for them. 30% of the merchandise belonged to the category that were not related to children, but implemented child models to influence children as well as parents. Their target audience was both children and parents. This very big 'others' category was another important finding in the study.

Service organizations like banks experienced used child models. There have been advertisements for four finance institutions and seven detergents during the period of the study and those possessed child models as the main character/s. It might be argued that the occurrence of children and their activities in advertisements make those attractive and interesting to view and have the attention of the visitors quickly. Children, by performing the jingles or enacting the commercial, may also act as reminders for the parents and indirectly effect their decision making.

With mention of products and gender connection, it was found that majority of the advertisements for foods (67%) were associated with children. Even in other categories like groceries and kitchen appliances, more than 50% of the advertising were positioned at boys. A number of advertisements targeted both the genders. Only in the personal hygiene category, females' commercials were higher in amount (58%) than boy's (42%). Additionally, no product in this category was positioned at the merged gender.

More autos were situated towards women than boys. Commercials for bicycles experienced only boys (Hero Ranger). The only advertisement for a bike for girls was clear from the brand name (Lady Bird), which in fact didn't show the lady riding the bicycle. These arguably imply that ladies should be safe and covered so they have to travel by car whereas kids are courageous and ambitious and can travel in bicycles and motorcycles. That is another idea associated with masculinity.

All the commercials of banks and detergents (100%) featured young boys as main personality/s. Boys did lots of things in the advertisements like instructing their mothers, advising others and demonstrating a variety of things where generally adults are involved in. Caring for the house as well as women seemed to be the responsibility of the kids, by looking at the commercials.

Production Features


With regard to settings, ladies were found to be generally in domestic configurations by past studies. Today's study also exposed the same end result with girls only advertisements offering them at home, playing inside or beyond your house more than guys only or combined gender advertisements. Young girls were found to be indoors in almost half the number of total advertisements. Boys' advertisements experienced more photos with various backgrounds. This was evident from the actual fact that the dominating setting in boys' adverts was 'no dominating setting' (37%). They were captured in a wide variety of locations, you can not decide a particular environment as the dominant one. These places were retailers, swimming pool, cricket ground, block, etc. The second dominant setting up in guys' advertisements was outdoor (35%). Overall, young boys appeared to be outside the house the majority of the times. They were primarily seen away from home. For them indoor accounted for only 23% of these locations.

Advertisements aimed at merged gender too acquired more volume of 'no dominant settings'. This implies that when young ladies were together with boys each goes out of the house and have fun; but when they were by themselves they put in time inside the house using dolls. Fantasy setting seemed to be more common for the feminine gender. 27% advertising for girls featured them in dream settings, whereas it was a mere 7% and 6% in the case of kids only and natural advertisements respectively.


With regard to interactions featured in children's advertising, the most evident finding was that the interactions of girls were always almost cooperative. A majority of the girls (83%) either in ladies only advertisements or neutral advertising, were employed in cooperative play. Guys, on the other palm, were portrayed as independent (35%) and competitive (27%). These types of portrayal associated with masculinity become role models for young boys to follow. Only in one commercial, the lady child was shown to be independent. Thus the analysis clearly showed that there is factor in the connection design of male and feminine gender in advertisements targeted at children.


In conditions of activities associated with children, participating in was the key activity of young girls (72%). Playing here referred to playing with a toy/doll or game. Though guys were also associated with learning, it was within less than 50 percent of the advertisements. Eating and stealing were found to be the activities of boys exclusively. No commercial exhibited young girls eating or stealing. At the same time, very few advertisements captured boys in a effective activity like reading. But it was common in commercials for the blended gender (20%). Last but not least, young girls were associated with playing with toys or games; young boys were associated with all sorts of activities and young boys & girls jointly were involved in effective activities as well as taking part in.

Analysis of Camera Work & Editing and enhancing Techniques


There were 1256 pictures in 73 males' commercials; 211 shots in 18 ladies' commercials and 398 photographs in 27 neutral commercials. The average was found to be 17 photos in males' adverts, 12 pictures in females' advertising and 14 images in mixed gender commercials. It was visible from the above data that young boys' advertisements had more shots compared to girls only advertisements. It was accompanied by mixed gender commercials and the girls only advertisements were the previous with less number of shots.

Shot Duration

When compared the young girls' advertisements with that of the males and blended gender advertisements, there resulted an extremely significant difference between the three categories in regards to to shot length of time. The entire average length of shot was found to be 1. 39 mere seconds.

The average length of a go was found to be 1. 25 secs in children only advertising, 1. 74 seconds in females only adverts and 1. 18 a few moments in neutral advertisements. 91% of the advertisements targeting boys had more injections with length below the common of just one 1. 39 secs. Similarly in almost all of the advertisements placed neutrally (81%), the shot length was below average. On the other hand, in commercials located at girls, the duration of more than half the amount of pictures (55%) was above average (>) meaning that the photos were longer. This meant there was obviously more quantity of shots in males' advertisements compared to that of young ladies' advertisements. Images in young boys only and neutral commercials were shorter than the girls only advertisements. In other words, boys' advertisements were overly busy when compared to girls' advertising.

This rate was an important feature that a casual viewer wouldn't normally have noticed since it was not noticeable. At the same time, it would make a difference while watching. This rapid cutting style in the young boys' commercials when compared to girls or merged gender commercials is known as to be a stereotypical feature associated with masculine gender. This fast pacing had not been only used to entice children's attention corresponding to Meyer 1983; Welch et al. , 1984; Wright et al. , 1984, but also build moods like enthusiasm and tension. On the other hand, slower reducing rates develop calmness and relaxation.

With regard to specific types of shot, all the types of commercials had more number of mid photographs, then long photos, accompanied by close-ups, except regarding neutral advertisements where the number of mid shots was add up to close-up shots. There is a highly significant difference (x2 = 33. 7, p<. 001 [df = 4], ) between the boys' advertisements and young girls' adverts in conditions of long pictures. The former got a greater percentage of long images (32%) than the latter (14%), that is, increase the amount of long shots in comparison with girls' advertisements. The identical difference was seen between neutral advertisements (33%) and girls' only advertising (14%).

Long shots are in any other case called as creating shots signifying they establish the area of happening or activity. In virtually any commercial, more use of long images might suggest more space which was common in guys' advertisements. The males' commercials were also significantly not the same as the mixed advertisements by making significantly less use of close-ups. In relation to the utilization of close-up photos of people, although difference between your boys' advertising and the young ladies' commercials had not been very significant, the percentage in girls' advertising was much closer to that in the mixed advertisements than in the young boys' adverts.

There was significant statistical difference between your boys and the young girls' advertising in the utilization of mid photographs also. (x2 = 28. 21, p<. 001, [df = 2]). Advertisements positioned towards boys had 37% mid shots, while women only commercials got 45% and merged gender advertisements got 31% mid photographs. There is again a notable difference between the two categories in their use of close-up images. Boys' advertisements used 30% of close-up photographs whereas the other gender used 40% of the same.

Camera angles

Analysis of camera perspectives uncovered highly significant variations between the three types of commercials, though level perspective have been used more almost evenly and overhead have been used minimal by all the three different teams.

Comparison of Camera Angles

With regard to shot angles, the dominant position in every the commercials was found to be the level shot. The dissimilarities in the utilization of high, low, and level shots in the adverts aimed at boys and those aimed at girls surfaced as extremely significant (x2 = 15. 20, p<. 001 [df = 4]). Males' advertisements turned up as significantly not different from the neutral advertisements. Boys' advertisements were not the same as girls' advertisements in relation to the use of low perspectives (6% and 2% respectively) and level sides but not with regards to high angles (kids' advertisements - 11%, young girls' adverts - 8%). Children' adverts used level photographs slightly significantly less than the women' advertising (87% in ladies' advertisements and 76% in guys' adverts). Low angle shots were used in even lesser numbers in both categories.

There was no factor between young boys and neutral advertising in relation to level injections (76% & 74% respectively) or low photographs but only with regards to high angle shots. Boys' advertisements used high perspective shots slightly significantly less than mixed advertisements. Young girls' adverts were significantly different from neutral advertisements (x2 = 14. 61, p<. 001 [df= 4]) with regards to each of the three types. Level pictures were used more often than high position shots; low images were used sparingly.

In addition to the normal camera sides, two special perspectives were also analyzed. 'Skew' camera angle was used equally in both kids and young ladies' advertising. The evident difference was at the usage of 'overhead' angle that was negligible in women' advertisements (. 007%) but was 4% in advertisements for boys. They were found more regularly in the adverts aimed primarily at boys than in those for women. These differences between the two solitary gender adverts were significant with (x2 = 15. 20, p<. 001[df = 4]). But merged gender advertisements possessed double the number (6%) of skew angles as that of kids (3%). An extremely significant difference emerged between the children' adverts and the neutral advertisements.

Comparing the five types of transitions, cuts have been used broadly in all categories of commercials. But 96% males' adverts have used cuts only. Usage of other styles of transition was negligible. Though reductions were common in advertisements aimed at women also (76%) it was not of up to in advertising for guys. Only 1% of the boy's advertising experienced used dissolves.

On the other hand, girl's advertisements had used dissolves for 20% which was very high set alongside the advertising of the other gender. Next to reductions, dissolves were used more in girl's advertisements where as swirls were used more in boy's advertising: fades were utilized by commercials targeting kids equally.

Comparing the changeover effects used in boys' advertisements your of children, revealed that chop was the major form of move. Boys' commercials acquired 96% slashes and neutral adverts had a straight higher clipping rate that is 97%. The difference between your commercials for boys and girls was highly significant with x2 = 80. 85 p<. 001 [df = 3]. Dissolves were used very seldom in advertisements aimed at children (1%) as well as in blended gender (0. 7%) advertisements.

Millerson (1985), Huston et al. , (1984), Welch et al. , and Wurtzel and Rosenbaum (1995) recommended that the abrupt and direct instantaneousness of slashes denoted fast action while softness, gentleness, predictability, and slow continuous changes of dissolves connoted passivity. Thus activity was associated with guys and passivity was associated with young girls in advertisements using the editing techniques.

Camera & Lens Movement

One of the significant findings regarding the camera moves and lens motions like panning, pedestalling, tilting and zooming was that in all the three types of commercials, we were holding used very minimally and there was no factor between the advertisements in this aspect.

Voice Over

Regarding the tone of voice over in the commercials, it was evident that male tone over was used invariably by all categories of advertisements. Advertisements for boys didn't use female tone of voice over even in a single circumstance. But 39% of advertisements positioned towards females used male speech over. Neutral advertising also predominantly used male tone of voice over (74%). Welch et al. found that voices in males' adverts and mixed audience advertising were typically male; feminine voices were typically limited to feminine commercials. They suggested 'that guys are portrayed as the government bodies in most content areas except for the reason that small area reserved only for females' (Welch et al. , 1979). Thus, male gender occupied a prominent position in conditions of voice over in children's advertising too.

Focus Group Results

The results of the concentrate group clearly demonstrated that children of this group 5-6 liked to view television and television advertisements specifically. They regularly observed children's programs plus they knew many of the advertisements even prior to the study. During chat it was recognized that they keenly viewed television advertisements with children specifically and often tried to imitate those character types they observed on screen. All of them could actually reinterpret the messages of television advertisements (especially the promotional announcements). They could distinguish between the commercials and the program. Though some of them were not in a position to understand the advertising motive of adverts, the majority of them could recognize that the commercials were for providing things. Or in other words, commercials gave information about products so that children could buy. They were clear in what products were made for whom. These were sure about commercials targeted at girls, those placed towards kids and common adverts.

With respect to gender, all the children were very particular about what they considered as proper gender patterns and they experienced definite ideas in what boys and girls really liked. Gender was judged based on the stereotyped portrayals they observed in the media, especially television. More importantly children accepted these stereotypes as natural and identified the visible images also in the lines of the stereotypes. Ladies presumed that the portrayal of kids in advertisements as active, naughty, mischievous and hostile was true. Children too accepted the depiction of young ladies as caring, soft, dependent, and so forth was accurate.

However they were confused about the gender setting of products, especially products utilized by both kids. Since products like sweets, biscuits and health drinks were used by both genders, they didn't know why guys exclusively were shown eating/ /chewing /drinking alcohol them. Though females definitely realized that the merchandise were to them also, they did not object to boys alone being portrayed like this. At the same time, boys believed the products were on their behalf and using those would make them stronger, taller, brighter, and so forth. They thought in those advertisements that showed kids and appealing extra power to them. They were really thinking about those sorts of commercials. In the case of products of personal cleanliness, girls identified certain products to be on their behalf. Similarly, soaps like Dettol and Life buoy were recognized by both children to be only for boys.

With respect to the configurations of the commercials, aside from two women, others believed home (indoor) was the area for them which was clean and tidy. They didn't want to mess themselves up by playing outdoors like the children and what they found on television was correct. At the same time, they didn't head using the kids outside occasionally. This response exactly coincided with the depiction of ladies in the commercials in that girls play inside in young ladies only commercials plus they were portrayed outside along with kids in merged gender advertisements. When it came to fantasizing, both were evenly excited. Both the genders enjoyed illusion settings. Their imagery was a lot more elaborate than what was there in those advertisements. They wanted more of such commercials especially with computer animation. They were in a position to feature gender to the animated character types they observed in the advertisements spontaneously. They were able to justify their action based on the appearance, features and activities of those characters which experienced clear distinction.

In terms of activities of children, they unanimously agreed that young boys were associated with more activities and audio. They were associated with fighting, running, jumping etc. more than playing. Girls believed firmly that they ought to not/would not involve in pursuits like stealing whereas kids thought that it was an issue, it needed bravery and only young boys could do such things. They said that it might be thrilling to activate in such activities. It had been exciting even to just watch it. However there was a difference between the judgment of children and their portrayal with regard to 'eating' in commercials. Girls didn't seem to be hesitant to eat or to be portrayed as eating. But no commercial for girls alone showed them eating. That was missing in merged gender advertising too. It had been found to be the experience of boys together.

With regard to interaction structure, all the children strongly sensed that their connection would change in line with the situation. Depending on whether it was young boys alone, girls exclusively or children together situation, they could respond separately, competitively or cooperatively regardless of the gender. Always portraying young boys alone as 3rd party and competitive appeared never to be agreeable even to guys. They thought that the girls could act smart when the occasion considered it.

However in regards to to the production & technical areas of the commercials like shot size & duration, camera angle, changeover, tone over, etc. , the kids weren't even aware of those terms. A number of the studies in developed countries which looked into these formal features of commercials had come up with results highlighting the knowledge of children in these factors. But in today's study these were completely at night, not able to continue and the discussion coming to an abrupt end. Last but not least, we can conclude that children were alert to the production top features of commercials and perceive them to be expected by the marketer. They didn't object to the people kinds of portrayal. To them it was natural and common in day-to-day life. However they neither notice the technological features nor understand them.

To summarize, though television advertisements alone cannot be blamed for creating stereotyped image for each gender in the imagination of children, they definitely strengthen stereotyped roles for girls and boys beginning with a young get older. Their affect on children was proved by the discussion with them who presumed that commercials revealed the truth in conditions of gender. Furthermore, they accepted that they not only imitated the character types on display, but asked or pestered their parents to buy those things which they see on tv set and generally they succeeded. This confirms with the notion of public learning theory which stresses the socialization through imitation and cultivation theory that is concerned with television as a robust mass media.


The present analysis plainly shows stereotyping in children's tv set commercials. Advertisements on television seem to be insensitive and retain the original and stereotypical images of not only women but even young girls. They still perpetuate the dominating male as the tone of voice of specialist and the invisibility of ladies in media and population. The findings clearly build that stereotypical gender images and assignments are predominant in children's television set advertisements. The domination of young boys over women is clearly established in several regions of these commercials. The note such commercials targeted at children carry, continue being gender biased.

The data show that the media portrayal of the feminine child is bound in the view it presents to children. Taking into consideration, the amount of time children spend observing television programs, and the actual fact that their gender actions have been proven to be affected by tv set, the lack of a 'total' female image (individual) is of relevance for those worried about challenging gender founded stereotypes in their seek out equality one of the sexes.

Children have grown to be a fundamental element of your choice making process in the current family setup in the population. Since they are tech savvy, more comfortable with the tv set/new media and have more access to these media, marketers need to be more cautious with the images that they present to these impressionable minds.

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