>> Overview research
They are of fundamental importance to the reception, the success and the impact of television programmes: emotions. Quality television facilitates positive emotions and handles the viewers’ feelings responsibly. What kind of emotional reactions are provoked by the reception of television content among children and adolescents? What kind of television content triggers “positive“ or “negative“ emotions on their part? What are the short- and long-term effects of the emotions elicited? Do children understand emotional media content, and how do they react to it? How do they interpret the emotional reactions of television characters? When do children and adults laugh and cry during television viewing, and how are we to evaluate this? What constitutes emotionally moving programmes? This research focus explores these and other research questions.
TelevIZIon 27/2014/E ”Feelings in Focus“;
Götz, Maya; Schlote, Elke: ”Emotions in children's TV. A few reminders for children's TV producers on feelings.” Internationales Zentralinstitut für das Jugend- und Bildungsfernsehen (IZI), Munich (ed.) Munich: IZI 2014;
TelevIZIon 19/2006/E ”Children – Humour – Television”.
Have and Show Emotions – What Children and Adolescents Feel in their Everyday Lives and When Watching Television (2014)
The emotional worlds of children and adolescents are an extremely complex field and statistically very difficult to measure. If we then add to this the question of their emotional mental state when watching television, and try to measure this in an international comparison, the complexities multiply. To at least establish a first approach – particularly also for the purpose of advisory work in the international context –, the IZI undertook two comprehensive studies with partners from around the world. In line with the experts’ general view that children and adolescents should be taken seriously and given a voice in the research too, especially when it comes to their own mental state, we asked children and adolescents directly about their everyday lives and the emotions they experienced when watching television. In addition, we asked them to what extent they express these emotions, whether they think their parents approve of openly expressing particular emotions, and what their expectations of television characters are.
Study 1: First of all, 1,458 children and adolescents between the ages of 6 and 19– a representative sample – were interviewed across the whole of Germany (carried out by IconKids & Youth, Munich).
Study 2: In collaboration with colleagues from across the world, the same questions were put to 4,180 children and pre-teens between the ages of 6 and 15 from 16 different countries. Together with the data from the sample of 6 to 15 year-olds, this produced a data corpus of n=5,190 children and adolescents.
Götz, Maya; Schwarz, Judith: Having and showing emotions. An international study on children's and adolescents' emotions and their expression. TelevIZIon, 27/2014/E, 10-13.
International Study: Television – Sometimes Triggers Laughter, Sometimes Triggers Nightmares (2013/2014)
In a national and international study, 510 eight to twelve year-olds in Germany, Brazil, Canada, New Zealand and Uganda were interviewed, by trained interviewers, about their emotional experiences when watching television. The children were asked to talk about television experiences which had really made them laugh, and about an experience which had led to a nightmare, and to draw pictures of these.
Results: Eight out of ten children were able to identify a nightmare experience that had clearly been induced by television. Slightly more girls than boys talk about having television-induced nightmares. The frequency of the nightmares decreases with age.
A comparison of the five countries shows that children from Germany are least likely to have bad dreams induced by television; children from Uganda, however, are the most likely to have them. Three quarters of the films and programmes which caused children to have a nightmare are, according to the children,“for adults“. Nine out of ten children in Brazil said this – comparatively the most. However, in all countries there were also some children who had nightmares after watching children’s programmes.
Holler, Andrea; Müller, Amelie: "I'm running very fast but they can still catch me". When television becomes a traumatic experience. TelevIZIon, 27/2014/E, 38-42.
Laughing in front of the television
Results: In terms of the analysis, it is possible to identify numerous typical humorous elements in children’s television. Children may find any of these funny. Ultimately, though, it depends on the context, how significant this is for the children, and to what extent it allows them to feel good. From this perspective it is also possible to interpret the scenes drawn and described by the 510 children, and to identify what really makes children laugh when watching television.
Götz, Maya; Berg, Maria: So, what's so funny about that?". Humour in children's TV. TelevIZIon, 27/2014/E, 30-33.
International Study: “Fear and Thrill in front of the Television – A Retrospective View of Childhood Television Experiences“ (2013/2014)
In cooperation with the IZI, between April 2013 and January 2014 PRIX JEUNESSE asked 631 students in a questionnaire about their fear experiences in childhood as well as about occasions when they experienced thrill, i.e. pleasurable tension. The student participants from the USA, Germany, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Israel, Hong Kong and Turkey drew a picture representing each respective experience, explained what it was, precisely, that had triggered the thrill, and described their experience during and after the reception.
Unterstell, Sabrina; Müller, Amelie: "I was very creeped out and my heart was racing". Fear in front of the screen - retrospective view of childhood TV experiences. TelevIZIon, 27/2014/E, 34-37. Unterstell, Sabrina; Müller, Amelie: "I loved it! It was so creepy but not in a way that made me scared". Thrills in front of the screen. TelevIZIon, 27/2014/E, 44-46.
Fear When Watching Television With Family (2008)
When do children feel emotionally overwhelmed when watching television with their family, and to what extent does the presence of parents protect them from frightening television experiences? 63 children aged 5 to 11 drew pictures of a frightening television experience they had had whilst watching television with their families, and they were interviewed individually. In order to identify the retrospective view of earlier television experiences, a study was carried out which involved 135 students completing a questionnaire.
Andrea Holler, Sabrina Bachmann: “I had nightmares for ages” What overwhelms children when they watch television with the family. Munich: 2014.
What Makes Children’s and Family Programmes Emotionally Moving? (2010/2011)
Being moved and crying in front of the television is germane to children. However, asking children about the artistic details of a programme is only partially productive. That is why, in addition to studies with children, we interviewed experts with a high degree of (self-)reflection and specific background knowledge in order to establish relations between inner psychological developments and media texts. On the one hand, the people who were interviewed deal with and reflect on feelings professionally: therapists. On the other hand, we interviewed experts, i.e. managing editors, whose job it is to propose, organise and select children’s and family formats. Together, we tried to find out when and why each of the children were specifically moved by a media text. The primary material for this consisted of the various quality programmes from the international archive of the PRIX JEUNESSE INTERNATIONAL which had already been described in various contexts as particularly moving. The therapists’ (self-)reflections were videographically recorded, and extracts from them were incorporated, as an additional perspective, into an intensive workshop with a small group of selected experts. The film which was used as a basis for the theoretical work was Der Kleine und das Biest (The Little Boy and the Beast)(ZDF). The results were presented at the IZI conference in 2010, where they were discussed with the editorial department responsible for the film and with the author.
How 3 to 11 Year-Olds Understand Der Kleine und das Biest (The Little Boy and the Beast) (2010/2011)
In the context of the theme “Emotionally Moving Children’s Television“, fifty children aged 3 to 11 were interviewed about the film Der Kleine und das Biest (The Little Boy and the Beast)(ZDF) as part of an IZI study. The aim was to find out how the respondents experience the animation, how they understand the story, and whether they think the film is suitable for children.
Holler, Andrea: When adults have other things on their minds. How 3- to 11-year-olds understand The Little Boy and the Beast. TelevIZIon, 26/2013/E, 12-16.
Children's Sense of Humour: an International Comparison (2005)
Humour plays a central role in child television programmes and children's choice of programmes. In 2002/2003, the IZI conducted a survey on children's and pre-teens' sense of humour. Children and pre-teens in Germany were surveyed and observed in a number of ways in order to investigate the question of what they find funny in everyday life and television. An Israeli study provided additional perspectives on children's sense of humour. The study produced very concrete findings on the subject of "What makes children laugh?". What emerges very clearly is that children have a different sense of humour to adults and that child-TV programme editors also often have incorrect perceptions of what children actually find funny.
The extent to which these findings apply internationally, however, remains unanswered. Do children in Israel, South Africa, Ireland, the USA and Germany find the same things funny on TV or are there significant cultural differences?
This is the starting point for the co-operative project "Children's sense of humour: an international comparison ", designed to investigate quantitatively and qualitatively what children find funny in selected child-TV material.
TelevIZIon 19/2006/E „Children – Humour – Television”.
What are Children Laughing About?
Children enjoy laughing and they do it a lot, and presumably laughing while watching television is widespread. However, in international research the question what children are laughing about and, in particular, what aspects of a television programme they find funny, has not yet been sufficiently investigated. This is where the IZI starts and co-operates with different media researchers and communication researchers.
TelevIZIon 19/2006/E „Children – Humour – Television”