YouTube Kids: Understanding Gender and Emotion through Modern Media.



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Through emotion socialization, children learn what emotions are, how to express them, and how to respond to them from the models they observe (Eisenberg et al., 1998; Gottman et al., 1996). Modeling of emotional displays is often gendered: American stereotypes of masculinity and femininity include emotional display rules, which are reflected in media (Oliver & Green, 2001). Masculine characters display more anger, while feminine characters showed more positive emotions, fear, and sadness (Oliver & Green, 2001). YouTube Kids is more interactive than traditional media, providing a more responsive media context of emotion socialization that has not been previously studied, and I endeavored to explore how these videos function as contexts of emotion socialization during middle childhood. We coded gender and emotion content to determine whether gendered patterns of emotion were present. I created two ghost users, to span the middle childhood range (6- to 12-years-old) and analyzed the top twenty recommended videos. Teams of independent researchers coded at the character and video levels. Each video received a gender global rating, as either completely feminine; mainly feminine with some masculinity; equally feminine and masculine; no gender-typed content; mainly masculine with some femininity; or completely masculine. Gender presentation of each character was coded as only feminine; both masculine and feminine; neither feminine nor masculine; or only masculine. Each video also received a global rating for emotion, for both positive and negative emotionality on a three-point Likert scale (0-2). Emotion coding for each character also used a three-point Likert scale (0-2) to indicate the extent of prototypical emotions such as pride, love, excitement, happiness, positive surprise, negative surprise, shame/guilt, anger, fear, and sadness/distress. Paired t-tests revealed there were significantly more positive emotions than negative emotions displayed within these videos (t (301) = 20.49, p < .001). There was a non-significant trend for video gender rating to interact with the within-subjects factor of positive vs negative emotionality, F (2, 17) = 3.14, Wilks' lambda = 0.73, p = .069. Though this finding must be interpreted with caution, this trend suggests that the disparity between positive emotionality and negative emotionality differed according to the video’s gender rating. When emotion and gender are observed at the character level, there was a significant difference in positive and negative emotions displayed by characters according to their gender presentation (F (3, 298) = 4.46, Wilks' lambda = 0.96, p = .004) with feminine characters displaying more positive emotions than their masculine and non-gendered stereotypes. Tentative findings suggest emotionality is gendered in YouTube Kids videos, but replication research is required to clarify these findings. Media has potential to be an avenue to reduce gender boundaries on emotions by promoting equal representations of people and their sentiments. However, current findings suggest videos on YouTube Kids may perpetuate gender-stereotyped emotionality.



Gender, Emotions, Social Media, Middle Childhood, Stereotypes, Human Development and Family Sciences, Developmental Sciences, Communication