Research Project

Children watching the incidents in Japan

Most children probably perceive huge disasters happening in the world, if they are part of the main news coverage. In some way or another, children follow the news on TV, in the printing press, or even on the Internet.

With the hereby gathered information, they shape inner pictures of what is going on in the world and of the major issues and problems. Previous research, for example revolving around Iraq War, has shown that children’s perception and political involvement is influenced by the public and national discourse (cf. Lemish/Götz 2007). Due to the current incidents in Japan – an earthquake, a tsunami, and an accident in a nuclear power plant – the news worldwide are dominated by this disaster. Therefore, we are asking ourselves: what are the consequences for children and children’s TV? This study, along with different sub-studies, wants to examine how children’s TV deals with the issue, how children perceive the catastrophe, and what kind of coverage they would like to be offered on children’s TV.

Research questions:

And something very important for quality in children’s TV:

This study aims at giving some answers concerning the perspective of children between 5 and 13 years in Germany and other countries.

Study 1: Media analysis

The media coverage in Germany within the first 10 days after the disaster in Japan had taken place is to be analysed, with special focus on adults’ news on the main channels as well as children’s news. Additionally, radio reports for children will be analysed.

Study 2:
Qualitative study 2a: Face-to-face interviews with creative part in Germany

Children between the age of 5 and 13 years from multiple backgrounds are interviewed face-to-face with a thematically focused interview guideline. Beside open questions, closed standardised items, and 2 creative parts (in which the kids are asked to draw pictures about what they imagine is going on in Japan at the moment and how they would like the issue to be presented on children’s TV) are also part of the questionnaire.
The interviews are to take place within the 10 days after the earthquake happened.
The analysis will be introduced qualitatively, clustering question by question, plus a statistical analysis of quantitative data.

2b: Interviews with creative part in other countries

In other countries (e.g. USA, Brazil), children (9 years and older) fill in a questionnaire by themselves, which is comparable to the interview guideline used for Study 2a. They also draw two pictures (one concerning their perception of the events in Japan, the other dealing with how they would like the issue to be presented on children’s TV).

Study 3: Picture letters to TV programme makers

Children from all over the world draw and write picture letters to TV programme makers dealing with what they think about the events in Japan and what they would like to learn about it on children’s TV. The evaluation is conducted with school classes or in a private environment.

Study 4: The children’s voices: What I think and feel about the incidents and what I want to learn from children’s TV

For this study, the children’s voices are recorded on video. They relate what they think and feel about the events, as well as what they would (or would not) like to learn from children’s television, and how they would like to learn it.
Questions for the children:

Project management: Dr. Maya Götz, Andrea Holler (IZI)

Lemish, Dafna / Götz, Maya (Hrsg.): Children and media in times of conflict and war. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Pr. 2007


Maxime Boivin/Penelope Poirier/André H. Caron
The Future of Children’s TV News Programs

Michaela Levi/Maya Götz
“Was it a Monster Coming Through the Water?”

Ana Lima
Making Sense of the News–Children Respond to the Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan

Diana Nastasia/Sorin Nastasia
What Do Children Know? What Do Children Think?

Pablo Ramos/Yuliet Cruz/Eileén Sanabria
Cuban Children’s Perception of the Japan Disasters

Pablo Ramos/Yuliet Cruz/Eileén Sanabria
Ecuadorian Children’s Perception of the Japan Disasters

Charu Uppal
Natural Disasters, Media Images and the Role of TV News