Sierra Filucci, editorial manager for Common Sense Media, offered her favorite role models for kids.
“Doc McStuffins” (Disney Junior)
This cartoon for preschoolers includes a young girl who serves as a doctor to her stuffed animals. She’s also African-American and her mom is a doctor. “She’s a great role model who still plays with her toys,” said Filucci.
“Legend of Korra” (Nickelodeon)
This show for tweens and older kids offers an action, science fiction setting with a strong, powerful female character. (It’s a follow-up to “Avatar: The Last Airbender.”) “She’s super powerful; she’s got a strong internal compass, a sense of duty. She’s not perfect. She makes mistakes and learns from them.”
“Parks and Recreation” (NBC)
This workplace comedy for teens and adults is set inside the parks department in a small Indiana town and stars Amy Poehler as dedicated bureaucrat Leslie Knope. Filucci is a big Knope fan: “She’s absolutely fabulous and completely nonsexualized, which is really hard to find.” She likes that the show focuses on Knope’s being “really competent and goofy and silly and accomplished.”
“Star Trek: The Next Generation” (in syndication)
One of Filucci’s all-time favorite role models is Captain Picard from this Star Trek reboot, good for ages 8 and older. “He’s sort of the epitome (of a role model): kind, patient, strong leader who is very thoughtful about the kind of work he does. He’s an adventurer who cares a lot about how people feel.”
“Daniel Tiger” (PBS Kids)
This animated tiger stars in a spinoff from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. “He’s a really sweet male character who deals with a lot of realistic feelings and emotions that young kids, both boys and girls, deal with.”
Local parents’ favorite shows
Plus quotes from parents:
“Peg + Cat” (PBS Kids)
“‘Peg + Cat’ is my favorite. Peg is a great role model. We use the calming-down and problem-solving techniques and approaches from that show.”
“Curious George” (PBS Kids)
“Is funny and makes you think outside the box constantly.”
The Muppets (movies and syndication)
“They have moved from generation to generation and have always addressed topics with class, education and some humor.”
“Jake and the Never Land Pirates” (Disney Junior)
“It teaches kids that even if someone is mean to you, take the higher road and help them when they’re in need.”
“Dora the Explorer” (Nick Jr.)
“She’s an independent female who explores.”
“Ni Hau Kai Lan” (Nick Jr.)
“They teach friendship lessons, and we’ve actually used some episode storylines.”
“Adventure Time” (Cartoon Network)
“For teens. Finn and Jake are always trying to help people or fix their own mistakes (that they accept responsibility for).”
“The Backyardigans” (Nick Jr.)
“Songs are catchy and the show teaches kids to use their imagination to have fun.”
“Peppa the Pig,” “Sofia the First,” “Wallykazam,” “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” “Wild Kratts,” “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic,” “The Chica Show,” “Matilda”
Females in TV and movies
28% of characters with speaking roles in family films from 2006-11 were female.
31% of characters in children’s TV shows in 2012 were female.
11% of family films had gender-balanced casts.
19% of children’s TV shows had gender-balanced casts.
Source: Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
It’s no secret kids spend a lot of time in front of various screens — about seven hours a day, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. While some of that time is spent in front of computers and video games, a majority is spent watching television and movies.