Animal Representation on UK Children’s Television
It is widely accepted that television is a powerful medium and that its influence, particularly on children and young people, can be profound (see for example Canadian Paediatric Society 2003; Strasburger 2004; Matyjas 2015). The representation and categorisation of non-humans in such content may therefore influence a culture’s attitudes towards those species and, by extension, its children’s views. This article investigates animal characters on three hundred and fourteen children’s TV shows across five days of ‘free’ to view UK programming during summer 2020, and is the first study in over twenty-five years (since Elizabeth Paul’s in 1996) to focus specifically on mainstream children’s TV, and the only one to have sole regard for pre- and early primary-age UK viewers. With research clear that the media is so influential, recognising the role of such culture transmission is vital to ‘undo’ unhelpful assumptions about animals that result in their exploitation, and change future norms (Joy 2009). Television media either ignores or misrepresents the subjective reality of many (particularly food) species, but with children preferring anthropomorphised animals to most others (Geerdts, Van de Walle and LoBue 2016), this carries implications in terms of responsibility for our ideas and subsequent treatment of those non-humans in everyday life.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.