Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Kids humor and gender-bias

At every age and stage of development children have their own emotional and intellectual relationship with humor. Humor brings families together. Consider how children may view humor, and how they may assign roles based on gender difference to what should and should not be found funny. In the article What's So Funny? Kids, teens and humor Part 1 by (Apr 1, 2010) she highlights girls and boys perception of what each gender "should" find funny.

"In our study, girls often mentioned that boys find 'stupid' things funnier than girls. While 'gross' and 'stupid' humor are perceived to skew towards boys, girls don't reject them entirely. In fact, there wasn't one type of humor categorically rejected by boys or girls. So as long as the content is gender-relevant, understandable and age-appropriate, all types of humor can appeal to everyone."
Erin Miller has clearly identified the gender-bias here. The study reveals that girls nor boys reject any single type of humor, girls readily proclaim that boys find "stupid" things funnier than girls. It's also addressed in the article that girls are "supposed" to find more humor in sarcasm and jokes that require higher intellect.

The benefits of humor are limitless. Stress reduction may be the most obvious, however humor has also been found to increase optimism and self-confidence. Humor is key to building relationships and crafting lasting memories. Keep in mind that humor brings along with it a fair share of gender-bias. Adults as well as children organize what is or is not supposed to be funny based on ages and gender. For example, a joke that is categorized as appropriate for a son to tell a father, but not deemed appropriate for the son to share with his mother. Pay special attention to moments when girls imply that boys humor in and of itself is "stupid", as any use of the word is hurtful.

Laugh, laugh often and with every member of your family. While doing so, notice when gender-bias may be limiting what your children, or your family is "supposed" to find funny. Boys can enjoy dry sarcasm and girls can giggle at physical humor, if your goal is to eliminate gender-bias in their development, then take the time to recognize that humor is not exempt.

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