Television Viewing Can Negatively Impact Girls’ Self-Esteem

Nicole Martins

A new study, published in the journal Communication Research, finds that television has a negative impact on the self-esteem of pre-adolescent girls. The study was authored by Nicole Martins, an assistant professor of telecommunications at Indiana University and Kristen Harrison, professor of communication studies at the University of Michigan. The authors surveyed 400 youngsters and measured their self-esteem and then compared these results to the amount of time they spent in front of the television. The results found that for Black and White girls and young Black males, their self-esteem was lower the more they watched television. But for White males who watched a lot of television, their self-esteem increased.

Kristen Harrison

Professor Harrison notes that “children who are not doing other things besides watching television cannot help but compare themselves to what they see on the screen.”

“If you are a girl or a woman, what you see is that women on television are not given a variety of roles,” says Dr. Martins. “The roles that they see are pretty simplistic; they’re almost always one-dimensional and focused on the success they have because of how they look, not what they do or what they think or how they got there. This sexualization of women presumably leads to this negative impact on girls.”

The article, “Racial and Gender Differences in the Relationship Between Children’s Television Use and Self-Esteem: A Longitudinal Panel Study,” can be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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