Children and diversity in the media: What are we missing out?

Volume 1 | No 1 | June 2022
Eva Londo


Shrek, the frightening ogre of the swamp, yet dearly famous for children, falls in love with the pretty princess Fiona, who transforms into an ugly monster at night. Fiona, obsessed with her appearance, awaits anxiously to be saved and loved by Prince Charming and retain her daytime beauty, or else she will remain an ugly and unloved monster. There are some more children’s movies that project the social reaction and rejection towards something or someone that is considered to be different than the norm. These images are mediated in various forms: be it films, cartoons, news, etc, thus creating citizens who are prone to exclude anything atypical, diverse, unusual. In any way, the selected information offered by the media affects people’s familiarity with human diversity (Naficy & Gabriel 1993, O’Barr 1994 cited by Cortes 2000) as well as intensifies the social and cultural issues. Children receive their social construct mainly from information they receive from mass media, which helps them create models and define their understanding of the world. This information can be as simple as a cartoon or multi-layered as these movies, but it can have semantic and stereotypical nuances that are packed in an attractive way, presented as news or as entertainment, and offered as fact or fabrication. In a specific context, children tend to be prejudiced towards a different ethnic group (Teichman & Zafrir 2003, Cortes 2000) and this starts to demonstrate between the ages of 5-7 by socialising mostly with their similar peers and by rejecting all others who are different (Nesdale & Lambert 2007). Similarly, they react against those peers who show features that are deemed to be “abnormal” or atypical by the societal norms, such as colour, physical appearance or other differences such as speech disorders. Different studies have investigated the factors that affect this stereotypical behavior, but most stress the role of the media. This paper will take an interdisciplinary approach on literature in order to understand the volatility of children on media content and will try to identify some instances of Albanian media’ contribution on creating biased perception on different social and cultural groups and explore the possible ways of educating children on diversity issues.


Mediated images, cognitive knowledge, othering, gatekeepers