Kids getting serious

South African tykes want news <I>and</I> toons

JOHANNESBURG — Today’s kids want to watch something other than cartoons on TV, according to a new survey that has turned preconceived adult ideas of children’s viewing habits upside down.

The Media Monitoring Project’s “What Children Want” study, conducted on 140 children between the ages of 9 and 13, found they enjoyed music and cartoons, such as the “Powerpuff Girls” on SABC2, but they wanted more variety including their own news, current affairs shows and dramas.

The study was conducted as part of the MMP’s submission to the Independent Communications Authority of` South Africa on the new draft license conditions of pubcaster the South African Broadcasting Corp., which will be restructured into public and commercial divisions later this year.

Researcher Gemma Harries says while 70% of the children interviewed preferred music and cartoons, 49% wanted more drama that featured children and 34% wanted more kid-skewed news and current affairs programs like SABC2’s “Kid’s News Room.”

However, they did not want adult opinions to dominate the show, and would prefer more children be asked to comment on issues.

Children noticed they were “primarily represented as victims in the news, and commented on the need for, and right to, protection, education, services and health,” says Harries.

Some 75% wanted less advertising, with a “disturbing” exception being ads for beer, which were their “favorites.”

Some 40% of the children watched TV from 4-6 p.m., and 35% between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Only 2% of the children interviewed watched early morning kids TV on weekdays, suggesting scheduling needed to be reviewed.