A new report from Kids Industries on U.K. and U.S. parents’ views on diversity and inclusion in children’s media showed that there is a desire for more representation in kids’ content.
According to the study, parents believe their children enjoy watching and listening to stories about characters who look or are different to them, with almost three-quarters reporting so. Nearly 30 percent of parents expressed a need for more ethnically diverse characters, while 26 percent said they want to see equal gender representation.
A smaller portion of parents—23 percent—want better disability representation, and only 12 percent would like to see more LGBTQ+ diversity.
Nearly three-quarters of the parents interviewed also agreed that it is through media that their children learn about people who are different. However, almost half also said that this same media features many negative stereotypes of different groups.
Just over half of U.K. and U.S. parents expressed a desire for more positive role models, and 41 percent would like to see more storylines that explain real-world issues to children.
The study also discovered that subtitles or closed captions (CC) appeal to both disabled and non-disabled children. In the U.S., 74 percent of parents reported that their children watch content with subtitles/CC, with 24 percent choosing to use them all or most of the time. In the U.K., 54 percent use subtitles/CC and only 9 percent use them all the time. Half of the parents from both regions reported that their children need subtitles/CC to enjoy content.
Access to captioning is limited, however, with only 46 percent of U.K. parents and 63 percent of U.S. parents reporting that the content their children love to watch has a subtitle/CC option.
“Play underpins everything that our children will become—it is as Maria Montessori said: ‘The work of the child,’” said Gary Pope, CEO and co-founder of Kids Industries and children’s commissioner for Products of Change. “Our research indicates that 67 percent of parents feel their children’s schools are good or excellent when it comes to their diversity and inclusion policies and approaches, which shows there is much more work to be done. We must listen to children and parent voices and ensure their needs and wants are reflected in the media that they consume.
“Nothing is more important than protecting and promoting a child’s right to play and making those play experiences the very best that they can be is essential and something that the industry needs to give serious consideration.”