YouTube Kids: Understanding Gender and Emotion through Modern Media



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Emotion socialization, the process through which children develop skills of regulating and responding to emotions, is essential in maturation and instrumental in numerous life outcomes. What children learn about emotions is frequently conflated with implications about gender: stereotypes of masculinity and femininity include emotional display rules (Oliver & Green, 2001). This project investigates the role of child-directed YouTube content in emotion and gender socialization during middle childhood. I hypothesized that there will be more evidence of emotional socialization in child-directed media content on YouTube for positive emotions than for negative emotions. Additionally, I sought to identify patterns of emotional expression along gender lines. I hypothesized the videos marketed for girls will contain more emotion socialization for positive and negative-internalizing emotions (sadness, fear, and shame), while the videos marketed for boys will contain more emotion socialization for negative-externalizing emotions, including anger. While other media agents have been analyzed, I selected YouTube Kids because it will address a novel and less controlled source of emotion socialization. Findings suggest positive emotionality is gendered as feminine in YouTube Kids videos. Gendered patterns of emotions in YouTube Kids videos reflect cultural norms within the macrosystem that may influence gender and emotional development. As children interact with online media, cultural messages are experienced within their virtual microsystem, and the reciprocal interactions of choosing, watching, and recommending videos direct development in these domains.



Human development and family Sciences