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Purpose: Students are able to take a highly debated and complex topic and apply it to a personal and real world example, while critically thinking about how marketing could be impacting the development of young people, specifically those in middle childhood.
Gender typing, stereotyping, and norming become very prominent in Middle Childhood. Children become very aware of the gender divide and become hyper-focused on what makes a boy a boy and what makes a girl a girl. Gender, in this stage, is often interpreted from the way you physically look, how you dress, the way you talk, the activities you choose, the people you hang around, and the books you read. This hyper-focus on gender-identifying variables can be attributed to cognitive advances in classification where children in this stage are now able to be more nuanced and vigilant in their ability to classify all different kinds of things than ever before. This combined with the ever-present egocentrism, where all things are about how the world impacts and compares to them, the focus on gender typing becomes more clear. Messages about gender and what gender is come from all around them. From parents, from friends, from teachers, and from marketing professionals.
Go to a store that has a wide-variety of toys and children’s clothing (i.e. Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart). Look at toys that are marketed to boys and girls and note how you can tell. Browse the clothing sections as well. Provide the following information about your observation:
Write: Begin your reflection by writing 75-125 words describing your observations. Be sure to describe things like where did you go? What day did you go and during what time of the day? What season of the year is it and does that have an impact on what is displayed in this particular retailer?
Based on your observations, reflect on the following questions:
Critically evaluate the impact of toys and consider whether gender stereotypes are driving the market – or vice versa?
If you were choosing toys for your own children (of both genders), how would you make use of what you learned?
What do you think of the possible impact of stereotyping on children today?
Are there elements of your own identity development that you believe were impacted by gender stereotyping?
Keeping in mind the social, emotional and cognitive change that is occuring during middle childhood, reflect on how gender stereotypes in marketing add to the existing pressures that a child in this developmental stage already feel to “fit in” and have/do “what’s cool’ (think Pokemon or beyblades or the zeitgeist toy of the moment) and the impact this can have on one’s sense of self-concept or self worth.
Write your name in the upper right-hand corner
Paper should be double spaced, 12 point font
Paper should be in standard 5-6 paragraph essay format
Page Length: 500-750 words total