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Study Says TV is Damaging Black Boys and Their Self Esteem

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.

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8 thoughts on “Study Says TV is Damaging Black Boys and Their Self Esteem

  1. Stan Jackson sr.

    Media should be a part of everyone’s life but children need to be taught reality from fantasy and that is a lesson they can’t teach themselves. Like candy and vegetables, media and real life have situations that need explanation and too much of any one thing can be harmful. There may be a small number of children affected negatively by media but all parents need to stop substituting caring, love, attention and learning with TV and games. As children, we were taught that TV can be a thief of your time, they called it the one eyed devil. A child can view more filth and evil in one week on TV than his grandparents viewed in their lifetime and when it come to the internet, a child can view more within a day than his grandparents did in a lifetime. No one should blindly trust any form of media and should control or clarify all info their child intakes.

  2. Stan Jackson sr.

    Get your information straight from the source and not JUST media. MEDIA LIES AND DISTORTS. If you rely on TV, radio and internet for all of your information, opinion and ideas then you and the rest of the world are in trouble. Those with more time, money, hatred, ulterior motives, drive, access and/or connections will have more information out there, that does not mean the information is correct, real, right or in your best interest. KNOW FOR YOURSELF. Read, listen, learn and discover the truth and not just from a reporter, blogger, poster or agent provocateur in an attempt to control your mind, actions or life. KNOW THE TRUTH! John 8:32 And Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.

  3. Albert Bostick

    As a Black male (an artist by profession) I have constantly taught, that “in order to be ones’ self one must see ones’ self” . If the media continues to show that all you can be is a thug, a rapper, a criminal, a troubled athlete, then that will be what the child will ascribe to be. If you further take arts out of schools, a class where they can use the pigments in crayon, and paint, or hear the monologues about heroes of the past and present, again what is your expectation?
    We mush show, them, and then challenge them to become what we wish them to be.
    Hire lack writers and artists and teachers to perpetuate the positive!\

  4. s'ann

    There you have it. The TV is harming our children. Parents turn the TV off or at least monitor the programs your children are watching.

  5. Shelby

    I’d be interested to know what these kids were watching specifically. All channels/shows are not sending the same messages. If these kids watched “less damaging” programming, it might not harm their self-image as black children.

    As such, it’s a little broad to blame all of TV for low self-esteem. When I was a young kid, I watched shows like the Ninja Turtles. In my teen years, I watched very little (if any) BET and understood that any negative portrayal of Afro-persons was not representative of the whole group of people.

    But I read books that gave me a greater degree of social consciousness and had edifying experiences related to blackness throughout my childhood, so the “filter” I had when I watched TV may have been different than kids without some positive experiences.

  6. JGary

    Black youth today have limited images from the jump. Major issue is that since they’ve been bombarded with unfair news from the start along with the conflicting issues of their culture’s history, young boys struggle immensely. It’s nothing but a massive state of confusion especially when the Black Female is steadily pursued by the white masses/(Master White-man i.e. Former mayor of Chicago, Daley has a Black Woman now since his wife has deceased).
    Coupled this last statement with the mass exonerations of black men in particular and the youth continue to see the newspapers plagued with no good news except when they arrive to sports which is where our society places us. Now, even the sports is trying to break in on the situation by it’s recent attack on players with high fines for what they call outbreaks of unexplainable or aaceptable expression.

  7. Craig aka Trouble

    Children should be taught from the beginning that most TV shows are shown to make money. The fact that many of them have commercials augments this factor since the companies paying for commercial time during the show have certain expectations. The only programs that don’t have an agenda are public funded shows such as PBS or Frontline. Many of our children are spending too much time watching TV period. When I was a youth I only spent about two hours a day watching TV. Today’s children watch at least four hours of TV a day which is enough to brainwash anyone. They need to learn how to turn it off and read a book or play chess.


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