Report – Research 7 & 8

Posted on: Thursday 04 July 2019 11:33am by Vanisha Sumboo

Research 7 & 8 put representations of gender, family and friendships under the lens across two research panels.


  • Male representation is dominant – both on screen and off screen.
  • Gender imbalance continues to be an issue that needs to be addressed.
  • Young people rate their families highly but become frustrated at the amount of time parents spend online.
  • Gaming and social media give opportunities to communicate with friends and is part of the fun gaming.
  • Friendship and family relationships can be enhanced through communication online.


Following a study conducted by IZI (International Central Institute for Youth and Educational Television) into gender and diversity representation 10 years ago, Dr Lynn Whitaker presented her 2018 research which analysed 300 hours of UK free-to-air children’s TV including PSBs: CBeebies, CBBC, CITV and Milkshake. The report mainly focused on fiction programmes, with analysis of statistics that were compared on an international scale with 8 other countries.

The U.K. did well comparatively, and the use of soft skills embedded in the programmes such as talking, problem-solving and negotiation ranked them first at 51.9%. Female protagonists with an on screen presence are noted at 36.4%, compared to male protagonists which continue to lead at 59.2%. Groups and teens are more commonly being used to represent characters, but these rarely have gender balance. The report showed an overall positive account of genre diversity in the U.K.content, however it was suggested that the U.K. needs to improve on representation of disability, skin colour, and addressing the gap of gender balance. All it takes is for one character to make a positive difference.


Dr Barbie Clarke presented research carried out by Family Kids & Youth (FK&Y) for the last 6 months of on-going peer-to-peer focus groups and friendships groups with Partner Panelbase – with a survey of 1,000 young people aged 7-16 years old.

The report showed the rise in popularity of social media, as well as exploring gender differences in the use of social media and gaming. There was no real evidence to suggest that social media causes harm. Children pear to be smart and understand the boundaries regarding internet safety.

Even with the use of gaming and social media, when it comes to children’s well-being, gaming ranked 20th on their list of concerns. In fact, their concerns relate more to the world they live in, rather than the world on screen. With all the technology advancements surrounding them, family and friends ranked number one and two as the common aspects that make both boys and girls happy.

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Vanisha Sumboo

About the author

Vanisha Sumboo


Vanisha is a freelancer in children’s TV with experience in production and script. She is an avid storyteller and is currently creating her first children’s picture book series. Her interests include yoga, HIIT workouts, travelling and creative writing. It will be her first time attending CMC as a blogger. Read more