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Tween Girls and their Mediated Friends


Nancy A. Jennings

Although parents and teachers are among the numerous socializing agents through which children learn about the world, media, too, has begun to take center stage as a substantial force in children’s lives. Media characters are some of the people being integrated into the social lives of children, yet very little is known about the implications of these relationships on child development in a mediated society.
Through in-depth interviews, this book explores how tween girls relate to media characters past and present, what they value in these relationships, and how these relationships have shaped their own identity and friendships.
The characters themselves are also analyzed from a feminist perspective, revealing the shared values of community, agency, and self-determination of the media characters and the girls who call them friends.
Through examining the characters and the text in which their stories take place, the book sheds light on what is important to tween girls, about the traits they value in others, and the traits they value in themselves.
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Chapter 4. Feminist Reading of Preschool Media Character Friends


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The more we get together, together, together

The more we get together, the happier we’ll be

‘Cause your friends are my friends and my friends are your friends

The more we get together the happier we’ll be.


For the girls, their preschool media landscape was filled with adventures and journeys, achievements and accomplishments, and English and Spanish. This chapter focuses on the characters that girls have selected in their media environment that felt like friends when the girls were in preschool. Looking back to their preschool years, the girls were asked to identify characters from when they were younger. Interestingly, they all chose characters that were from the same creative team, Dora the Explorer. Five of the girls selected Dora the Explorer and one chose a spin-off of the show which featured Dora’s cousin called Go, Diego, Go! A key component of both of these shows is audience participation. As such, the girls were encouraged to be a part of the show and experience many of the same attributes as the characters, particularly that of Dora and Diego. What were those attributes? How was the viewer given these attributes?

As in the chapter on the girls’ current media choices, this chapter will describe these characters through the lens of Vandergrift’s model (1996). ← 61 | 62 → Since preschoolers watch television...

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