Toy ads on TV transmit different values to boys and girls

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London: Toy advertisements on TV promote values that associate beauty with girls and strength and power with boys, a new Spanish study has found.

Spanish researchers analysed 595 toy advertisements seen over the Christmas campaigns, between October and January, when most toy adverts go out, for the years 2009, 2010 and 2011.

The analysis of the adverts on eight TV channels showed that, although many of them have messages that apply to both sexes, such as fun, education, solidarity and individualism, it was more frequent to see very separate values.

In most of the adverts, cars and action heroes were associated with males, together with competitive values, individualism, power and strength. However, the female role was linked to beauty and motherhood as seen in adverts for dolls and accessories.

In the adverts studied, boys were offered more toys encouraging spatial skills, while girls were shown dolls and educational games. Also there was evident gender segregation in the voice-overs.

"Female voices predominated in adverts where girls appear, and male voices where only boys appear and also when both genders are shown," said Esther Martinez, researcher at the Rey Juan Carlos University and one of the authors of the study.

In addition, any adult figures in adverts "only appear for board games and electronic toys, representing the father's role. However, a father is rarely shown playing action games," Martinez said.

The authors concluded that, despite legal provisions, there are still toys that are very different for girls and boys.

However, they also said that "a change is under way."

Martinez said that in the advert for a well-known make of girls' dolls, some boys now appear in the background; and there is a brand of toy weapons selling a pink crossbow and bow for girls.

The study was published in the journal Comunicar.  

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