Today's superheroes are bad role models for young boys, study finds

[Photo by Rebecca Lomax/Chicago Parent] Thomas “T-Bird” Taylor, 4, of Mount Prospect

By Liz DeCarlo

Senior Editor

If you want to raise the next generation of kinder, gentler boys, cut back on the punching, kicking superhero flicks.

A new study looking at the media finds today's superheroes are aggressive, sarcastic, exploit women, flaunt bling and convey their manhood with high-powered guns-not like the good guys of the past.

"They're no longer the sweet, vulnerable superheroes. Most often they're action heroes who are stereotypes of masculinity," says psychologist Sharon Lamb, co-author of the study.

And it's not just messages of aggression little boys are watching. Plenty of media heroes hate school, get as many girls as they can and party. "Some of the bonding you see in these cartoon movies, like in 'Open Season'-he and his best friend get closer by breaking into a store and bingeing on soda pop," Lamb says.

It's impossible to completely shield kids from these media messages, so parents' best bet is to minimize exposure and talk about what they see, she says. Point out examples in their life where the stereotypes they see on TV don't hold true.

"When you make someone aware of something, they can fight against it," Lamb says.


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