Canadian kids prefer 'exciting', 'funny' TV shows

TORONTO: 75 per cent of Canadian children and adolescents chose their favourite television programmes because of two attributes: "exciting" and "funny".


A few days ago, the Canadian Teachers' Federation (CTF) published the results of its research Kids' Take on Media. The survey covered 5,756 students in Grades three to 10. The research found that approximately 75 per cent of children and adolescents chose their favourite television programmes because of two attributes: "exciting" and "funny". The "violent" component was the least favoured of all, ranking at the bottom of the list of 10 possible attributes presented to children in the survey. When asked why they disliked certain video games, "too boring" and "not enough action" were cited as the top two reasons.

The survey also found that frequent news watchers feel more worried about the world but also more motivated to do something about it. Younger children are the ones most frightened by the news, feeling their personal safety is at risk. Girls are more likely to be sensitive to the harmful effects of media violence; 60 per cent of younger boys play video and computer games daily; and 75 per cent of kids in Grades 7-10 watch restricted movies at home. More than half the students surveyed in Grades 7 to 10 said they had witnessed real acts of violence that mimicked computer games, videos or television shows.

48 per cent of Canadian kids aged 8-15 have their own TV and 35 per cent have their own VCR. CTF president Terry Price was quoted in an official release saying, "We chose the timing to highlight the significant influence that media has in the lives of children and adolescents, and our role as parents and educators in making the most of that connection."

The Kids' Take on Media study shows that children and adolescents whose parents supervise their TV viewing and who discuss violence, racism and sexism in the media, are more likely to be aware of the negative impact of media violence. Many children, however, are on their own.

Nearly half the students surveyed say they receive no parental guidance on which television programmes they can watch. Two-thirds report that no one says which video or computer games they can play, or for how long. These children are more likely to regard media violence as benign.

Young people themselves recognise the need for supervision. Their top-rated TV show The Simpsons (airs in India on Star World) is one they believe younger children should not be watching. They also recognise the power of interactivity in video games, saying that there should be tighter age restrictions on mature-rated video and computer games than on R-rated films.

Price added, "Although media education is mandated in all provinces and territories there is little professional learning development for teachers attached to this new discipline. There are many excellent resources currently available to parents and teachers, to help young people to think critically about what they are watching or interacting with on TV and computer screens. Our survey shows that the older children get, the more they themselves see the value of studying media in school."

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