By: Krystle Crossman
Watching television is something that almost every child does. A new study that was conducted over 12 months has found that watching television is severely damaging to the self-esteem of black children, specifically young boys. The images that they see and the characters that they are shown makes them feel like they don’t have many happy paths in life that they can take and that no matter their decisions in life, all roads seem to end up in a negative place while white children seemed to have more images of ending up in lavish homes with riches and love in their lives.
The study was conducted by researchers at Indiana University. They studied 400 children who were ages 7-12. There was a mix of black children and white children. The children lived in the Midwest area and were all in lower-middle to upper-middle class homes. The study focused on the what kind of self-worth the children had about themselves in conjunction with the kind of television they watched and how much they watched.
One theme that they found to be constant was that the white children all seemed to see images of older men having great lifestyles, never in trouble, and always living in fancy homes with happy families. The more television that they watched, the better sense of self-esteem they had because they could see that life was good from what the media was showing them.
As for the black children however, they were constantly bombarded with images of older black men who were in prison or some kind of trouble with the law. They saw them living in poverty, unhappy with their lives. Young women didn’t fare much better in the media as they were often portrayed as young mothers, party goers, and girl who were often times self-obsessed.
Television and media executives constantly put out statements saying that they do not generalize and stereotype, but you can tell just by flipping through channels that this is not true. Granted, there are some great shows with positive messages for young black children such as Family Matters, but these shows are a rarity and are overrun with images on the news of black men being criminalized.
As you can imagine the more television that young black males watched, the worse they felt. It seems like they have nowhere to go in life but prison no matter what they do.