A new study has founds shows like Sesame Street with messages of diversity and acceptance have minimal impact on countering racial and ethnic prejudice in young children three to six years old, reports Pacific Standard.
“Despite our vigorous attempts to unearth associations between children’s racial attitudes and their exposure to these types of programs, there were no significant direct effects of exposure to intergroup friendship shows such as Sesame Street, and minority hero shows such as Dora the Explorer,” wrote researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in the journal American Behavioral Scientist.
Parents of some 111 children, 81 percent who were White, were asked how often their children watched Dora the Explorer, Ni Hao, Kai Lan, Sesame Street and Little Bill–all shows featuring Hispanic, Chinese American, and African American in lead roles.
The children were then shown pictures of White, African American, Hispanic and a Chinese girl and asked how they would feel to have her as a classmate.
“Overall, there was virtually no evidence of relationships between habitual or experimental media exposure and children’s attitudes.”
A second study by the same researchers produced more encouraging results. You can read about that study in Pacific Standard.