Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Lipschultz

Second Advisor

Dr. Sherer

Third Advisor

Dr. Rousseau


The purpose of this study was to examine the content of advertisements directed toward boys and girls ages six to twelve. Gender portrayals, settings, activities, themes and types of advertisements were variables analyzed in the sample. Data collected from the advertisements were taken from a random sample of four Saturdays of children’s programming between 6 a.m. and 12 p.m. CBS, ABC, and FOX were the three networks and Nickelodeon was the cable channel used in the study. Out of 1079 advertisements observed in the sample, 220 were not repeated. Results revealed that the most frequent types of advertisements viewed sold food (54 percent) and toy products (44 percent). More advertisements directed toward girls contained inside settings and passive activities, compared to those directed toward boys, which contained more outside and fantasy settings and active activities. Dominant themes in boy advertisements were adventure and conflict, while many of the advertisements directed toward girls were humorous. Social and observational learning theories explain how and why children model characters in the advertisements they view. Because gender roles and behaviors are apparent in advertisements directed toward children, it is important to examine exactly what they are watching between their favorite programs.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Communication and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright Sara C. Karpan June, 1997