More often than not, we don’t realise how much what we choose to expose kids to, plays a key role in modelling them. According to a report conducted in North America by Lemish & Johnson (2019), 65% of what children (up to age 12) watch consisted of white characters. Out of the 65%, most female characters were more likely to be non-white or racially ambiguous than male characters.
During that period of enculturation in kids, it’s important to be very careful about the type of things we expose them to. Amidst all the crazies of parenthood, we often resort to using cartoons and fun PG Rated movies to distract our children. Not many realise this but children mimic a lot of what they see and hear from the media. “Looking back, I wish I had grown up hearing more positive things about my glorious natural kinky hair. It is important to let little girls know that their natural hair is beautiful just as it is,” says Nelly – Community Manager at Akili Kids!. “ I believe that this all starts with the content they consume, especially in this age of technology.”
This all goes back to what the media can do to make a difference. At Akili Kids!, We pride ourselves in ensuring all kids not only have fun while learning but also get to learn about and embrace the different aspects that life in general has to offer. We feature different shows like Ubongo Kids that has multiple characters that are unique in their own way.
For example, Mama Ndege hates it when people discriminate against her for being a bird. She speaks for people who are being shunned from society for being different because of their outward experience. Because Mama Ndege is also extremely smart and loves making up Math songs, the kids around her get to learn a lot about. This shows that a person isn’t who they are on the outside but can offer more than just looks despite being different. Ubongo Kids also features a character called Amina who is an Albino. Despite her being that way and sometimes feeling left out, she has friends around her who love her as she is. When children watch such shows, they slowly learn that it’s okay to be different, it’s what’s on the inside that matters!
Be it print media or broadcast media, content creators need to make sure every person is represented without bias. Diversity and all it entails MUST always teach children to respect and celebrate the differences in all people. From skin tones, to hair textures, body shapes, special needs, etc. Learning about different cultural aspects and life in general offers new experiences for children in a bid to shape a better tomorrow.
By: Sharon Raburu