In a national poll from the study, almost three fourths of children aged 10-17 describe males on television as violent. More than two thirds describe them as angry. The children's perceptions are validated by the study's independent analysis of how men act and how masculinity is portrayed in the most popular programs boys watch. Other highlights from the study include:
- Some level of violence appeared in over half of the sample of television shows and movies most popular among adolescent boys.
- The vast majority (74%) of males in the programs and movies sampled perform anti-social behaviors such as ridiculing, lying, aggressive or defiant acts.
- Many children do not think that "sensitive" describes television's male characters.
- Sports commentators consistently use the language of war, martial arts and weaponry to describe sports action.
- Traditionally masculine images of speed, danger, and aggression are often used in the commercials shown during sports programs boys watch.
- Minority characters are more likely to use sexual behaviors to solve their problems, while White characters are more likely to use deception, dominance and ridicule.
"Our study shows that boys are exposed relentlessly to a narrow, confining picture of masculinity in America, one that reinforces anger and violence as the way to solve problems." Dr. William Pollack, co-director of the Center for Men at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School and author of Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood, said, "As I talk to boys across America, I'm struck by how trapped they feel. Our culture puts boys in a gender straitjacket, channeling their full range of healthy emotions into narrow forms of expression, often aggressive ones. Media legitimates these constraints at a time when we desperately need to reinvent manhood in America."
The study, which examines both sports and entertainment media, included a national poll conducted by Lake Snell Perry & Associates of 1,200 young people (ages 10-17) and focus groups in which boys offered their own insights into the media that they consume. The study also included analyses conducted by academic researchers affiliated with the University of Washington and the University of Southern California that examined messages in the prime-time television shows, movies, music videos and sports programming most frequently watched by boys.
"As society begins to focus on the well being of boys, we are learning that boys need a fuller range of options to grow up healthy. The media's challenge is not only to catch up with the times, but to help show the way to a healthier future," said Salisbury.