Photo Credit: Nickelodeon
Are boys being shut out of tween TV? Certainly, the tween media world is dominated by girls like Hannah Montana (Miley Cyrus), Alex Russo (Selena Gomez), Carly Shay (Miranda Cosgrove) and Tori Vega (Victoria Justice). Meanwhile, the Jonas Brothers, Justin Beiber, and Zac Efron seem positioned primarily for girl idolization. And, as a recent L.A. Times article points out, the major live action TV categories in the 2010 Kids Choice Awards were dominated by girl stars.
So, are boy TV viewers being ghettoized to channels like Disney XD and ESPN? One Nickelodeon exec told the L.A. Times that the success of their girl-focused shows (for which audiences are split roughly 50/50 on gender) only demonstrates that boys' tastes are changing. She said boys are becoming more "emotionally intelligent," and enjoy shows about "relationships and humor," not just Pow-Bang-Smash! (Of course, no one wants to use the more obvious language -- that boys may be becoming more feminine).
Watching my own son and his pals, and taking account of what my wife -- a veteran 5th grade teacher -- tells me, I'm inclined to agree that contemporary boys can find entertainment in a variety of contexts, in addition to the stereotypical ones. This wouldn't indicate a taste "change" so much as a taste "expansion." Plenty of boys still find dabble in sports, skateboards and karate chops, but plenty also love a fun storyline. Or maybe those boys have existed all along, and only now have been given license to be out in the open about their interest in friendships and feelings, not just football.
Of course, all this speculation is unnecessary -- you have your own focus group. Ask your kids what they like and why they like it (which is a good thing to be doing regularly anyway). If their answers do indeed surprise you, maybe you've been thinking too hard about the question.
PLUS: Does Disney XD Stereotype Boys?
Is tween TV shutting out the boy audience? Chime in below!