Parents want more inclusion in media and video games

A new report highlights the increased need for DE&I in children's toys, games and media

With many parents concerned about the lack of diversity and inclusion in the video game, media, and toys industry, family-focused marketing agency Kids Industries (Ki) has launched a new report that explores the concept of DE&I among children aged 5-15 and their parents. 

The lack of representation in the media is a real issue: almost three-quarters of parents surveyed said their child likes to watch and listen to stories about characters who look like them or are different from them (67% in the UK, 79% in the US). Sixty-four per cent said that their child would like to see more characters who look like them in the media.

And while 74% of parents agree that their child learns about people who are different from them through the media they consume, an alarming 49% say that these media portray many negative stereotypes about different groups (42% in the UK, 56% in the US).

More educational content

To correct this, just over half of UK and US parents (53%) would like to see more positive role models in the media. 41% would also like to see more stories that explain real-world problems to children, as would those who want more flexible educational content, such as problem-solving (43%). Programs that use traditional teaching, such as maths skills, appeal to 38% of parents.

Regarding inclusion, 26% of parents want an equal representation of men and women (22% in the UK and 30% in the US), and 29% want more ethnically diverse characters (33% for US parents). And 23% of parents wanted more representation of people with disabilities, and 12% wanted more representation of LGBTQ+ people.

More family play 

When it comes to video games, 46% of parents think that screen-based games are good for their children’s development (42% of UK parents vs 49% of US parents). More than half of parents also agree that digital games are relaxing for their children and 56% say they put them in a good mood (62% for US parents, 51% for UK parents). 

More than half of the parents surveyed also think that digital games develop their children’s vision and action skills and enable them to be more creative or imaginative.

However, more than four out of five parents (84%) feel that their children spend too much time in front of screens at any age. They are also concerned that screen-based games lead to less socialisation (42%) and feel they limit what their children can see or do (17%).

To improve the situation, parents would like more opportunities for family play (37% – 39% in the US and 35% in the UK), and 31% look forward to new and innovative ways of playing and interacting.

As in the media sector, parents want to see more positive role models in the games their children play (41%) and support games that offer ‘soft’ education, e.g. problem solving (37%), and traditional education, maths skills (31%). For inclusion, 18% of parents support a better representation of disabled people in games, and 11% want a better representation of LGBTQ+ people.

More gender-fluid toys

In addition, parents would like more opportunities to play together as a family (38%), and 35% would like toys to be imagination-based. Another important observation is that parents are looking for toys made from more environmentally friendly materials (33%).

Parents are very busy people, and 21% say that it is difficult to always find time to play, watch or do things with their child that they enjoy (27% in the US and 16% in the UK). With this in mind, parents want to support their children’s skill development, and 40% would like to see more toys that contribute to traditional education, particularly maths, and more that contribute to ‘soft’ educational problem-solving.

In terms of representation, parents would like to see no difference between toys for girls and boys (22%) and more positive role models (37%). They also want more ethnically diverse toys (22%), and 17% want a better representation of people with disabilities. Better representation of LGBTQ+ people is desired by 9% of respondents.

Gary Pope, CEO and co-founder of Kids Industries and Children’s Commissioner of Products of Change, said: “Play is at the root of everything our children will become – as Maria Montessori said: ‘The work of the child’.

“Our research shows that 67% of parents rate their children’s schools as good or excellent in terms of policies and approaches to diversity and inclusion, which shows that there is still much to do. We need to listen to the voices of children and parents and ensure that their needs and wishes are reflected in the toys, games and media they consume.”

“Nothing is more important than protecting and promoting a child’s right to play and ensuring that these play experiences are the best they can be, this is essential, and the industry needs to think hard about this.”

In this article, you learned: 

  • Parents want to see more positive role models (41%) in video games and to have the opportunity to play with their children as a family (37%).
  • 41% of parents want movies and TV shows to explore storylines that explain real-world problems.
  • 22% of parents want there to be no difference between “girl” and “boy” toys.
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