Tween TV Teaches Young Girls That Looks Matter Above All

Do what you want, but make sure you always look pretty doing it. This, according to a new study, is what tween TV teaches young girls. The research, published in the journal Sex Roles, analyzed 49 episodes of 40 different American tween programs aired on Disney Channel, Disney XD, Nickelodeon, and the Turner Cartoon Network in 2011. The programs were divided into two categories: teen scene (geared toward girls) and action-adventure (geared toward boys). Researchers looked at attractiveness, gender-related behavior, and personality characteristics such as bravery and handiness with technology.

While action-adventure shows had mostly male characters, teen scene programs were pretty balanced in terms of gender. Girls were almost invariably portrayed as attractive, concerned with their looks, and received more comments on their appearance. This was the case for both teen scene and action-adventure programs. Boys, on the other hand, were shown in varying levels of attractiveness, and were portrayed as brave in action-adventure programs.

Girls were almost invariably portrayed as attractive, concerned with their looks, and received more comments on their appearance.

"Tween programs, which are seen worldwide, put viewers at risk of developing skewed conceptions about gender-roles that may be limiting," said Signorielli. "We therefore advise the use of media literacy programs to help mitigate some of these potentially deleterious effects." It's official, science has just confirmed all our fears.