A new study published in the journal, Child Development, has revealed that playing Disney princesses is bad for children.
The study is centered around 198 preschool-age boys and girls and how they interacted with toys and movies revolving around the Disney princesses. "Ninety-six percent of the girls and 87% of the boys watched Disney princess media, and 61% of the girls and 4% of the boys played with princess toys once a week or more," according to Teen Vogue.
The researchers from the study, conducted at Brigham Young University, deduced that "the more interactions children had with the princesses, the more likely they were to have female gender-stereotypical behavior the next year."
This is problematic because the messages in the Disney princess movies could keep children from avoiding experiences that they perceive is meant for children of the opposite gender. Many of the Disney princesses play the damsel in distress role waiting for a man to save them, and the movies tell them that is what people like.
"We know that girls who strongly adhere to female gender stereotypes feel like they can't do some things," said family life professor at BYU Sarah M. Coyne. "They're not as confident that they can do well in math and science. They don't like getting dirty, so they're less likely to try and experiment with things."
Not only do children adhere to the stereotypes presented in the movies, but they also feel the need to conform to the body image standards of the Disney princesses. "Disney princesses represent some of the first examples of exposure to the thin ideal. As women, we get it our whole lives, and it really does start at the Disney princess level, at age three and four," continued Professor Coyne.
While the study has revealed some noteworthy results, researchers are not recommending completely banning the princess movies and toys. Rather, they find it is important for parents and the people responsible for the children to encourage a wide variety of interests and activities that are not gender specific.
Do you think the Disney princess movies are harmful for children?