More than Just Child’s Play?: An Experimental Investigation of the Impact of an Appearance-Focused Internet Game on Body Image and Career Aspirations of Young Girls
J Youth Adolescence
More than Just Child's Play?: An Experimental Investigation of the Impact of an Appearance-Focused Internet Game on Body Image and Career Aspirations of Young Girls
Amy Slater 0
● Emma Halliwell 0
● Hannah Jarman 0
● Emma Gaskin 0
0 Centre for Appearance Research, University of the West of England , Bristol , UK
In recent years, elements of the modern environment (such as television, Internet, toys and clothes) have been criticized for having an increasingly sexualized or appearance focus, which has been suggested to be detrimental to girls' development. The current study examined the impact of an appearance-focused Internet game on young girls' body image and career cognitions and aspirations. Eighty British girls aged 8-9 years were randomly assigned to play an appearance-focused or a non-appearance focused game for 10 minutes. Girls in the appearancefocused game condition displayed greater body dissatisfaction compared to the control condition. Type of game did not impact girls' perceived capacity to do various jobs. However, girls who played the appearance-focused game reported a greater preference for feminine careers compared to the control group. This provides preliminary evidence that appearance-focused Internet games may be detrimental to young girls' body image and aspirations. Internet games should be included in our consideration of influential messages for young girls.
Internet games ● Body image ● Career aspirations ● Sexualization ● Appearance ● Girls
In recent years, public debate has intensified about the early
sexualization of girls, or girls “growing up too quickly”. In
particular, elements of the modern environment (such as
magazines, television, Internet, toys, and clothes) have been
suggested to be increasingly grown up and often have an
appearance or sexualized focus. This concern has been
reported in the American Psychological Association’s
Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls
(2007) as well as by the UK Government Report Letting
Children be Children
. Both reports outline
that girls are growing up in a cultural environment that
overly emphasizes the importance of appearance and
looking “sexy” and that this may be detrimental to girls’
selfimage and healthy development. A relevant and related
concept is self-objectification (a term used interchangeably
with sexualization in the APA report), which refers to the
process by which girls internalize an observer’s perspective
on their bodies and learn to treat themselves as objects to be
valued primarily on their appearance. A sizeable body of
research has demonstrated that self-objectification is
associated with a host of negative consequences in adolescent
girls and women, including disordered eating
Calogero et al. 2005; Greenleaf 2005; Slater and Tiggemann
2010; Tiggemann and Slater 2001; Tylka and Hill 2004)
(Calogero and Thompson 2009; Steer
and Tiggemann 2008)
, attitudes toward cosmetic surgery
(Calogero et al. 2010)
, and depression
Saris–Baglama 2002; Muehlenkamp et al. 2005;
Tiggemann and Kuring 2004)
. Given these known negative
consequences, it is critical for research to investigate the
impact of a sexualized culture on young girls. Although
environmental factors associated with objectification, or
sexualization, of women and adolescent girls have been
widely documented, as yet there has been limited research
that has examined the issue in young girls.
The current study begins to address this gap in the
literature by exploring the impact of Internet games on young
girls’ body image and career aspirations. Despite being a
common form of entertainment for young children, Internet
games have not received any empirical investigation as to
their potential impact. Here we investigate the impact of
playing an Internet game that has an “appearance-focus”—
the female character changes her outward physical
appearance (clothes and hairstyle) in order to be appealing to a
male character. The impact of brief exposure to this game
on girls’ body dissatisfaction, self-objectification, and career
aspirations and preferences is investigated.
The Development of Body Image in Childhood
Children are being exposed to appearance-focused
messages and sexualized portrayals at an early stage of their
socio-emotional development. This is concerning as even
very young children may be influenced by this exposure.
From as young as 3 years old, children are able to verbally
describe themselves. Over the following years, children
begin to compare themselves to others, although this is
initially only in relation to one person at a time
. Also from the age of 3, children in Western cultures
start to develop and display stereotypical beliefs that beauty
(and thinness) is associated with positive characteristics
(Harriger et al. 2010; Spiel et al. 2012)
. Around this age,
young children frequently engage in pretend play (often
adopting the role of a character) but may not be cognitively
capable of making comparisons. However, as a child
reaches 6 or 7 years old she places a greater emphasis on
self-evaluation, and increases in engagement in social
comparisons are apparent. Therefore, from this age it is
likely that internalization of the thin ideal leads to
appearance-related social comparisons, that may increase
body image concerns (Anschutz et al. 2012).
According to the sociocultural theory of body image
(Thompson et al. 1999)
, children are particularly susceptible
to messages from their parents, their peers, and the media,
and importantly, may lack the cognitive skills and abilities
to critically evaluate messages from these sources
et al. 2004)
. Both parents and peers may influence body
image through direct or indirect communication and
(Dohnt and Tiggemann 2005; Hart et al. 2015; Jones
and Crawford 2006)
. Notwithstanding the important role of
parents and peers, the mass media are arguably the most
powerful transmitter of sexualized and idealized images of
both men and women
(American Psychological Association
Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls 2007)
. The mass
media consistently depicts and promotes images of the thin
ideal—including tall, extremely thin, moderately breasted
women—that are unrealistic and unattainable for the large
majority. These idealized images are not only found in adult
media but are also found to be increasingly common in
children’s media. For example, a content analysis of popular
children’s films (e.g., Cinderella, The Little Mermaid)
suggested that many films contain 10 or more body
(Herbozo et al. 2004)
. Understanding the
impact of exposure to such messages is critical for
researchers striving to both understand, and ultimately
ameliorate, any negative impacts of children’s media.
The Impact of Exposure to Media Influences
A number of meta-analyses have reported that media
exposure adversely affects women and girls’ body image,
self-esteem, eating behavior, and emotional well-being, and
that this effect appears stronger for girls under the age of 19
(Grabe et al. 2008; Groesz et al. 2002; Want 2009)
However, despite the fact that children are likely to be
particularly vulnerable to media messages as they develop
attitudes, values, and beliefs
, very few studies
have focused on the impact of media exposure on young
girls. Correlational research indicates that media exposure,
through magazine and television programs, is related to
internalization of the thin ideal, body dissatisfaction, and
dieting awareness in girls as young as 6 years old
and Tiggemann 2006; Harrison and Hefner 2006)
, and more
recently that exposure to television and magazines
containing sexualized content is related to a preference for
sexualized clothing in 6–9 year old girls (Slater and
Tiggemann 2016). These associations are perhaps unsurprising
considering the high levels of gender-role stereotypes and
the emphasis on appearance of women in the media, who
are often presented as thin, attractive, and provocatively
(Downs and Smith 2010; Murnen et al. 2016; Rudy
et al. 2011)
In an experimental study,
Hayes and Tantleff-Dunn
investigated the impact of watching
appearancefocused movie clips on the body image of 3–6 year old
girls. Girls in the experimental condition were exposed to
film clips that contained appearance-related messages (e.g.,
Beauty and the Beast), whereas the control condition were
exposed to films clips with no appearance-related messages
(e.g., Dora the Explorer). Perhaps surprisingly, results
indicated that exposure to the appearance-focused clips did
not negatively impact on girls’ body dissatisfaction, with the
authors suggesting that very young children may adopt the
persona of attractive characters with whom they identify
rather than comparing themselves directly to the characters
as is thought to be the case with slightly older children.
Other experimental research has focused on the impact of
Dittmar et al. (2006)
showed 5–8 year old
girls visual images of Barbie (an unrealistically thin doll),
Emme (a realistically sized doll) or no doll (control
condition). Lower body esteem and the desire for a thinner body
were reported among girls exposed to the Barbie condition.
A recent study expanded upon this initial work and found
that 5–8 year old girls who interacted with an actual Barbie
doll (rather than images of Barbie) had higher thin-ideal
internalization than girls who played with a non-human toy,
although no impact was found on body esteem or body
(Rice et al. 2016)
. Collectively, some of the
limited evidence to date appears to suggest that
mediapromoted ideals, through a variety of means including
magazines, television, and dolls, are associated with
detrimental effects on young girls’ body image.
Gender Roles and Stereotypes
Importantly, children’s media not only depict body ideals,
they also embed gender roles and stereotypes. Children
learn culturally defined norms of gendered behavior through
societal cues, that often result in gender stereotypes
et al. 2002)
. According to cognitive social learning theory
(Bussey and Bandura 1999)
, children use gender as a
categorizing framework. Stereotypical gender beliefs can
emerge when they are transmitted in one’s society and
culture. This is particularly concerning given that evidence
suggests women are under-represented in current media
and, when they are present, are often portrayed in a negative
(Rudy et al. 2011)
, depicted in stereotypical roles
and are often sexualized through provocative clothing or
. These findings have been mirrored in a
recent content analysis of children’s products. Murnen and
(Murnen et al. 2016)
examined a range of
children’s products in the U.S. including Halloween costumes,
dolls and action figures, and Valentines cards. They found
that female characters were far more likely than male
characters to portray feminine-stereotyped characteristics
e.g., decorative clothing and friendly facial expressions,
whereas male characters were more likely to depict
masculine-stereotyped characteristics e.g., functional
clothing and displaying the body in motion. Therefore, it is
evident that gender-stereotyped characters are portrayed in
popular children’s culture and products.
argued that early exposure to sexualized
content may also limit young girls’ aspirations and
achievements by highlighting beauty as of the upmost
importance. Indeed, the cultural promotion of exaggerated
gender-stereotypes may affect not only the gender-role
development of a child, but also their aspirations and
expectations. Tzampazi and colleagues
(Tzampazi et al.
used drawings and verbal justification to explore
occupational preferences among Greek children and
revealed that stereotypical representations of gender (e.g.,
girls have long hair and wear dresses) were more frequent
among girls than boys, and that boys were more likely to
choose careers that were “aligned” with their gender. Recent
Sherman and Zurbriggen (2014)
sexualized toys may limit the career aspirations of young
girls. In their experimental study, American girls aged 4–7
years were randomly allocated to play with either a Barbie
or Mrs. Potato Head doll. After 5 min of exposure, the girls
were asked whether they could “do” a number of
occupations in the future, and whether boys could “do” these same
occupations. Girls reported that boys could do significantly
more occupations than they could themselves, particularly
masculine-dominated ones. Furthermore, girls who played
with Barbie perceived they could perform fewer
occupations than boys, compared with girls who played with Mrs
Potato Head. Apart from these findings, the impact of
appearance-focused and sexualized messages and gender
roles on career aspirations is largely under-researched.
The Role of Internet Games
Previously, research on media exposure has been limited in
its focus to traditional media formats. For example, Grabe
and colleagues' (2008) meta-analysis only compiled studies
that examined the impact of television programs and
magazines. However, the Internet is now a powerful
sociocultural influence in many children’s lives. A large-scale
study of over 25,000 children across 25 European countries
suggested that one third of 9–10 year olds access the Internet
(Livingstone et al. 2011)
. In the UK, hours spent using
the Internet have risen from 9.2 h per week in 2013 to 10.5 h
per week in 2014 among 8–11 year olds
Between the ages of 8 and 11 years children use the
Internet primarily for entertainment, including playing
Rideout et al. (2010)
surveyed more than 2000
American children and showed that games were the most
commonly used computer activity among 8–10 year olds.
Internet games have the potential to be more influential than
alternative media due to their interactive and engaging
nature, and beliefs and values including gender role identity
may be perpetuated through gameplay
(Oliver and Green
. Further, Internet games are likely another avenue
through which idealized bodies and stereotypical gender
roles are promoted. A content analysis of popular video
console games revealed that, in comparison to male
characters, female characters were underrepresented, more
likely to have unrealistic body shapes, display more skin,
and wear more sexualized clothing
(Downs and Smith
. Furthermore, games aimed at children have been
shown to feature thinner characters than games aimed at
(Martins et al. 2009)
Research suggests that girls often identify with characters
in games and tend to mimic them as a way of learning
(Gorriz and Medina 2000)
Subrahmanyam and Greenfield
analyzed what appealed to girls when playing online
games, and reported that they prefer role-playing games that
represent real-life situations. More recently,
reported that children prefer free, multi-game websites that
contain a large number of “mini games” such as Friv. Friv
has been ranked as the third most popular online games
, with an estimated
reach of 426,000 Americans per month
Cross-sectional research suggests that electronic media
use, including the Internet and gaming, is related to poorer
psychological well-being among Northern Irish girls and
lower health-related quality of life among Australian
(Devine and Lloyd 2012; Mathers et al. 2009)
small number of studies have investigated the impact of
Internet exposure on body image and have found
associations between time spent on the Internet and poorer body
image in adolescent girls
(Tiggemann and Miller 2010;
Tiggemann and Slater 2013)
as well as in 10–12 year old
(Tiggemann and Slater 2014)
. In one experimental
Barlett and Harris (2008)
found that brief exposure to
a video game that featured characters with idealized bodies
lowered body esteem in both men and women. However,
research has yet to explore the impact of Internet games on
The Current Study
Children’s Internet games may depict both unrealistic
appearance ideals and strict gender roles. If children
internalize these messages, body image disturbance may result.
Further, children could take on attitudes and beliefs about
gender roles from these games (gender role socialization),
that could result in lowered aspirations and expectations.
Previous research has largely focused on the impact of
consuming traditional media images and engaging in doll
play. However, Internet game play is likely to encompass
important elements of both of these. Not only do Internet
games contain numerous images, they are also likely to
encourage some sort of character identification or adoption
that may be influential. This medium provides a powerful
and fertile environment for empirical research.
The current study aimed to examine the influence of an
appearance-focused Internet game on the body image and
career aspirations of 8–9 year old girls. It was hypothesized
that girls who played an appearance-focused game would
report increased body dissatisfaction and self-objectification
compared to girls who played a control game. In addition,
Sherman and Zurbriggen (2014)
, it was also
hypothesized that exposure to an appearance-focused game
would result in reduced career cognitions as well as an
increased preference for traditionally feminine jobs,
comparative to controls.
Participants were 80 girls aged between 8–9 years, with a
mean age of 8.43 (SD = .50) and were in Year 4 according
to the U.K. National Curriculum. They were recruited from
six primary schools in the southwest of England. Most of
the schools were larger than the national average in size,
had a lower than average number of pupils eligible for free
school meals, and had a majority of White British students.
The sample were all English speaking and were
predominantly White (90%). Of the total participants, 47.5% of
the girls were in the appearance focused-exposure
condition, and 52.5% were in the non-appearance
focusedexposure condition (control condition).
Following approval by the Research Ethics Committee at
the University of the West of England and from Head
teachers of all schools, a letter of introduction outlining the
study and accompanying consent form was sent home to
parents of all girls in Year 4. Consent forms were returned
by 85 parents (overall participation rate of 28.2%) and of
these, 80 girls were available to partake in the study (five
girls absent on the days of the experiment).
The experimental sessions were conducted at school
during normal class time and took approximately 25 min
per child to complete. The study was introduced to the
girls as looking at what sorts of games girls like to play
and what they would like to be when they grow up. The
girls were told they would be asked some questions
before and after playing a game on a laptop. Before
starting, girls also provided verbal assent to participate. It
was emphasized that this was not a test, that there were no
right or wrong answers, and the answer formats were
explained carefully for each section. Each question was
read aloud by the researcher, and responses were entered
on a laptop.
Participants were randomly assigned to one of two
experimental conditions (“appearance-focused” game and
“control” game). Prior to playing the game, researchers
collected data in relation to demographics and Internet use
at home. Participants then played one of two games from
the games site Friv for ten minutes, after reading the simple
online instructions. In the experimental
(appearancefocused) condition the girls played a game called Dream
Date Dress Up that requires players to memorize an image
of a male character’s “dream date”. Girls were then required
to change the clothes and hairstyle of a female character to
match this image. At the end, children received a score
based on how well their final character matched the boy’s
“dream date”. In the control condition the girls played a
game called Penguin Diner that involves a penguin
character working as a waiter in a café serving customers. The
Dream Date Dress Up game was chosen as it was typical of
the numerous “dress-up/make-over” games that were
prevalent on the Friv website, and also explicitly contained the
message that a girl’s value comes from her physical
appearance (a key definition of sexualization, APA report).
The Penguin Diner game was chosen as the control game as
it did not contain any human figures (to elicit
appearancebased comparisons), the penguins had no apparent gender,
and the game appeared equally appealing and engaging to
After playing the game the game for 10 min, participants
completed self-report measures of self-objectification, body
dissatisfaction, and career cognitions. At the end of the
study girls were thanked and given a small gift, such as a
sticker or piece of stationery, for their participation.
A number of questions about Internet usage were
developed. First, participants were asked whether they used the
Internet at home and how often they go on the Internet each
week (Everyday, Most days (but not every day), 1–2 times a
week, Hardly ever). Participants were then asked to indicate
what they used the Internet for: (Homework, Talking to
friends (e.g., using Facebook, Kik, Instagram, Twitter or
email), Watching videos (such as films, programs or
Tube), Playing games, Searching for information using
Google or Bing, Sharing things (such as making YouTube
videos), Other, (more than one response option allowed), as
well as to share any rules their parents set about when they
could use the Internet or what they could look at whilst on
the Internet. Finally, girls were asked specifically whether
they played on the Internet games website Friv (I never play
on this site, I sometime play on this site, I play on this site a
Using the Child Figure Rating Scale
each girl was asked to point to the
figure that most looks like her (current body size) and then
the figure that she would most like to look like (ideal body
size). Children were explicitly told that the second answer
“could be the same, or it could be different” to the previous
answer. A body shape dissatisfaction score was computed
by subtracting the girl’s ideal from her current body size. A
score of zero indicates no body shape dissatisfaction,
whereas a negative score signifies a desire to be thinner, and
a positive score indicates a desire to be bigger. Additionally,
using the Adolescent Figure Ratings Scale
each girl was asked to point to the figure
that shows the way she would like to look when she is
grown up (ideal adult body size). Again, girls were
informed that their answer “could be the same, or it could be
different” to their previous answers.
State self-objectification was measured using the Modified
Twenty Statements Test (TST)
(Fredrickson et al. 1998)
This measure has been used to examine differences in
selfconcept and to elicit descriptions of the self through
freeformat responses, and has been used in similar research
Martins et al. 2007; Tiggemann and Boundy 2008)
. For the
purpose of this study, it was shortened from ten statements
to three, in line with Gapinski’s reasoning that earlier items
on the Ten Statements Test would be more indicative of
participants’ state self-objectification (Gapinski et al. 2003).
Furthermore, using fewer items was deemed more
appropriate for this age group. Participants were asked to describe
themselves using three words in response to “I am…”. The
original coding system used by Fredrickson et al.
(Fredrickson et al. 1998)
was adopted, whereby the free
responses were classified into categories. For the purpose of
measuring state self-objectification, we focused on the
number of times that participants generated statements in
the body shape and size category and physical appearance
Career cognitions and aspirations
Sherman and Zurbriggen (2014)
, girls were
presented with color photographs of 11 workplaces
representing different occupations or careers. One neutral, five
female-dominated, and five male-dominated places of
employment were pictured. Male- and female-dominated
occupations were determined by data specifying the ratio of
men to women employed in different occupations using UK
census data, that correlates with similar data outlined by
Sherman and Zurbriggen (2014)
and Liben and colleagues
(Liben et al. 2002)
. The neutral occupation was a server in a
restaurant. The female-dominated occupations were:
teacher, librarian, day care worker, flight attendant, and nurse.
The male-dominated occupations were: construction
worker, firefighter, pilot, doctor, and police officer. Each
picture included a one-sentence description of the photo
(e.g., “This is a restaurant: where a food server works”) and
a description for the kind of work someone would do in the
scene (e.g., “A food server: is someone who brings people
food at a restaurant”). None of the pictures included any
human figures, but held recognizable clues as to the career
represented. The data collection regarding cognitions about
careers was described to participants as a picture game.
Sherman and Zurbriggen (2014)
participants “Could you do this job when you grow up?” and
“Could a boy do this job when he grows up?”. Here we also
asked participants “Could other girls do this job when they
grow up?” and “Would you like to do this job when you
grow up?” The first allowed for analyses between what girls
believed they could do themselves in comparison to both
boys and other girls. The latter allowed for the distinction
between what girls believe they could do (abilities), and
what they would like to do (preferences). Participants
indicated either “yes” or “no” to each question and scores
were calculated by summing the number of “yes” responses.
Almost all of the girls (96.3%) indicated that they used the
Internet at home. Of these girls, 13.0% indicated they used
the Internet every day, 33.8% used the Internet “most days”,
42.9% used the Internet 1–2 times a week, and the
remaining 10.4% of girls indicated they “hardly ever” used
the Internet. One third of the girls (33.3%) reported that they
were allowed to use the Internet “whenever they like”, with
the remainder (66.6%) reporting they could only use the
Internet “with their parents’ permission”. The most common
activities to do on the Internet were: playing games
(reported by 81.8% of girls who used the Internet at home),
searching for information (81.8%), watching videos
(77.9%), doing homework (64.9%), talking to friends
(23.4%), and sharing photos or videos (14.3%). When
asked specifically whether they played on the games
website Friv, 60% of girls indicated they did use this website
(13.8% “a lot”, 46.3% “sometimes”).
Similarity Between Conditions
An independent t-test confirmed no difference between the
experimental and control groups for age, t(77) = 1.33, p
= .18, frequency of Internet use, t(75) = 1.27, p = .21,
frequency of exposure to the Friv website, t(78) = .66, p
= .51, nor for enjoyment of the experimental and control
games, t(78) = 1.79, p = .08.
Effect of Appearance-Based Game on Body
Independent sample t-tests were conducted to assess the
effect of game type on girls’ figure rating preferences (see
Table 1 for means). Consistent with hypothesis, there was a
significant difference in body dissatisfaction between the
two conditions, t (78) = 2.10, p = .02, d = .46. There was
no significant difference between the current figure selected
by girls in the two game conditions, t (78) = −0.05,
Preference for male-dominated 0–5
*p < .05 (one –tailed)
−8 to +8
p = . 48. However, girls in the appearance game condition
selected significantly thinner figures for their ideal figure, t
(78) = −2.15, p = .02, d = −.48, and their ideal future
figure, t (78) = −1.77, p = .04, d = −.39, compared to girls
in the non-appearance game condition.
Effect of Appearance-Based Game on State Self
An independent samples t-test was conducted to assess for
differences on state self-objectification by condition. There
was no significant effect of condition on state
self-objectification, t (78) = .18, p = .43, see Table 1.
Effect of Appearance-Based Game on Career Potential
The means and standard deviations for the career
endorsement by actor, career gender stereotype, and condition are
reported in Table 2. Replicating
Sherman and Zurbriggen’s
analyses, a mixed design ANOVA was used to
examine the impact of game type on the number of
endorsements for possible occupations. A 3 actor in career
(self vs. boys vs. other girls) × 2 occupation type
(masculine vs. feminine) × 2 game condition (appearance vs
nonappearance) ANOVA revealed a significant main effect for
actor in career choice, F(1,78) = 73.04, p < .001, partial η2
= .48. Comparisons indicate that participants reported that
boys, F (1, 78) = 86.28, p < .001, partial η2 = .53, and other
girls, F (1, 78) = 75.34, p < .001, partial η2 = .49, could do
significantly more jobs than they could do themselves (see
Table 2). There was a significant main effect for occupation
type, F (1, 78) = 16.43, p < .001, partial η2 = .17. However
there was no significant main effect for condition, F (1, 78)
= 1.06, p = .31, partial η2 = .01.
The significant effect for actor was qualified by a
significant interaction between actor and occupation, F (2,
156) = 23.40, p < .001, partial η2 = .23. To explore this
interaction, analysis was conducted separately for
endorsements of feminine and masculine occupations. There was a
significant effect of actor on endorsements for both
feminine occupations, F (2, 78) = 34.75, p < .001, partial
η2 = .47, and masculine occupations, F (2, 78) = 56.75, p
< .001, partial η2 = .59. Participants reported that they
could do fewer masculine jobs than boys, t (79) = −10.58,
p < .001, and other girls, t (79) = −6.75, p < .001.
Participants also reported that they could do fewer feminine jobs
than boys, t (79) = −3.41, p < .001, and other girls, t (79)
= −7.57, p < .001. Participants reported that boys could do
more masculine jobs than other girls, t (79) = 5.33, p
< .001. Conversely, participants reported that other girls
could do more feminine jobs than boys, t (79) = −4.44, p
< .001. Hence participants endorsed traditional gender
expectations about career potential. In addition, participants
reported that they were generally less able than both other
boys and other girls of doing the occupations listed.
Critically for our hypotheses, none of the interactions
involving condition were significant. Neither of the
twoway interactions between actor and condition, F (2, 77)
= .30, p = .74, partial η2 = .008, nor occupation and
condition, F (1, 78) = .06, p = .80, partial η2 = .001, were
statistically significant. Moreover, the three way interaction
between actor, condition, and occupation was not
significant, F (2, 77) = 1.52, p = .22, partial η2 = .04.
Therefore, contrary to hypothesis, playing the appearance-focused
game had no impact on cognitions about possible careers.
Effect of Appearance-Based Game on Career
In addition to reporting on whether they could do each of
the jobs listed by
Sherman and Zurbriggen (2014)
the current study also reported whether they would like to
do each job. Our prediction that girls would rate feminine
careers more positively in the appearance-focused,
compared to non-appearance, condition was supported, t (78) =
1.83, p = .04, d = .40, see Table 2. However, there was no
significant difference in the preference for masculine careers
between the two conditions, t (78) = .43, p = .67.
Female-dominated occupations (0–5)
Male-dominated occupations (0–5)
All occupations (0–10)
“A boy can
“A boy can
“I can “A boy can “Girls can
do” do” do”
Sensitivity Analysis and Power
In our analysis of career potential, we replicated
and Zurbriggen (2014)
and we may have been
underpowered to identify interactions between game condition,
actor, and occupation central to our hypotheses. Therefore,
we also ran a series of t-tests comparing the “could” ratings
for girls/feminine roles, girls/masculine roles,
boys/feminine roles, boys/masculine roles, self/feminine roles and
self/masculine roles in each condition. None of these t-test
were statistically significant, all ts < 1.46 and all ps > .148.
In our other analyses, we conducted multiple t-tests to
target each of our hypotheses directly. However, this
increases the chance of finding significance by chance. A
MANOVA across these variables confirmed a significant
difference between the control and appearance-focused
game group, λ = .83, F(5,74) = 3.04, p = 0.15, ηp2 = .17.
Recent public and scholarly debate has highlighted an
increase in the sexualization of girls in modern Western
(APA 2007; Bailey 2011; Smolak and Murnen
. Reports such as the American Psychological
Association’s (APA) Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls
(2007) argue that girls are frequently exposed to messages
that reinforce the importance of appearance and looking
“sexy”, and that exposure to such messages may contribute
to body image problems, as well as a number of other
negative psychological consequences. However, there is
scant existing evidence to support such claims. In recent
years, the Internet has emerged as a powerful cultural
influence for young people, with Internet games being a
popular source of entertainment for young children (Rideout
et al. 2010). The aim of the current study was to examine
the impact of playing an appearance-focused Internet game
on the body dissatisfaction and career cognitions and
aspirations of young girls. With respect to body
dissatisfaction, the results indicate that 8–9 year old girls who
played an appearance-focused Internet game (Dream Date
Dress Up) for a brief period of 10 min demonstrated
heightened body dissatisfaction compared to girls who
played an appearance-neutral Internet game (Penguin
Diner). This body dissatisfaction was expressed via a
preference for a thinner ideal body now as well as a preference
for a thinner ideal body in the future. Our identification of a
potential contributor to childhood body dissatisfaction is
both important and concerning given the established links
between early body dissatisfaction and later serious
psychological outcomes such as dieting, disordered eating
, and reduced self-esteem
(Wertheim et al.
. The findings highlight that the deleterious effects of
exposure to appearance-focused and sexualized messages
that have previously been demonstrated with adult women
and adolescent girls
(e.g., Aubrey 2006; Hargreaves and
Tiggemann 2004; Harper and Tiggemann 2008;
Vandenbosch and Eggermont 2012)
, may indeed be relevant to
much younger girls.
Further, identifying contributors to body dissatisfaction
in early childhood is important given the known rise in
body dissatisfaction that occurs between childhood and
adolescence, when a high proportion of adolescent girls
express dissatisfaction with their bodies and appearance
(Neumark-Sztainer et al. 2012; Ricciardelli and McCabe
, and the fact that early body dissatisfaction is shown
to predict later body dissatisfaction (Paxton et al. 2006).
While appearance-focused internet games are only one
source of influence on young girls, recognizing and
understanding these influences may help to curb the
cumulative impact of societal influences on the
development of body dissatisfaction.
The present findings add to and extend the small body of
experimental work that has investigated the impact of
exposure to media and toys on the body image of young
girls. In the only other experimental study to investigate the
impact of exposure to appearance-focused media,
and Tantleff-Dunn (2010)
found that exposure to film clips
with appearance-related messages did not impact body
dissatisfaction in 3–6 year old girls. The present contrasting
finding, that engagement with an appearance-focused
Internet game did impact body dissatisfaction in 8–9 year
old girls, may be an indication of the different
developmental stages of the two samples, with body dissatisfaction
not typically established before the age of 6
. Further, it may be that Internet games are
a particularly potent form of media in that they not only
present appearance and body related ideals, but the
interactive nature of the game typically encourages players to
adopt the persona of a particular character. This adoption of
a persona may aid the internalization of particular messages
and ideals more so than the viewing of “traditional” media
formats where one is typically viewing characters from an
outside, observer’s perspective. In the Dream Date Dress
Up game used in the present study the female character is
preparing for a date with a boy. The player is shown an
image of what the boy’s “dream date” looks like, and then
proceeds to alter her character’s appearance (through
clothes, hair styles, and accessories) in order to be appealing
to the boy character. It is possible that the playing of such
dress-up and make-over games encourage girls to focus on
their outward physical appearance and highlights a
perceived discrepancy between their own appearance and
bodies and that of the culturally prescribed thin ideal.
Further research to replicate and expand the current findings
with young girls will be critical in order to fully appreciate
the impact of engaging in this type of interactive game at a
young age, as well as the longer term impact as children
move into early adolescence when engagement with other
life simulation video games (e.g., The Sims) and social
networking services (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat)
(Carr 2005; Tiggemann and Slater 2013,
Two studies have examined the impact of exposure to
images of Barbie and interacting with an actual Barbie doll
and have found effects on either body dissatisfaction
(Dittmar et al. 2006)
or the internalization of a thin ideal
(Rice et al. 2016)
in 5–8 year old girls. The
degree of body dissatisfaction expressed by girls who
played the appearance-focused game in the current study
(on average choosing an ideal body figure that was just
under 1 figure smaller than their perceived current figure)
was very similar to the degree of body dissatisfaction
expressed by girls exposed to images of Barbie in the
Dittmar et al. (2006)
study and by girls who actually played
with a Barbie doll in the
Rice et al. (2016)
exposure to toys and dolls
(even when it is in print format as
in the Dittmar et al. 2006 study)
, like the playing of
particular Internet games, also encourages girls to imagine
themselves as the character potentially contributing to
feelings of body dissatisfaction.
Contrary to hypothesis, the present study found no
evidence that exposure to an appearance-focused game
impacted girls’ self-objectification. The extremely scarce
existing evidence has focused on “self-sexualization” or a
preference for sexualized clothing rather than using a
measure of self-objectification.
Slater and Tiggemann
demonstrated a correlation between exposure to
sexualized media (television and magazines with a focus on
appearance and the body in a sexualizing way) and a
preference for sexualized clothing in 6–9 year old girls,
Starr and Ferguson (2012)
found that the quantity
of media consumption (television and movie consumption)
was largely unrelated to self-sexualization in girls of the
same age. In contrast to these studies, the present study used
a modified version of the Twenty Statements’ Test where
girls were asked to describe themselves in three words as a
state measure of self-objectification. There was no
indication of a condition effect on this measure. However, the
means were extremely low for both conditions, indicating
that overall very few girls chose to describe themselves in
appearance or body-related terms (e.g., “I am skinny”, “I am
pretty”). To our knowledge, this measure has not been used
with children of this age before, and it may be that it lacks
the required sensitivity for use with this age range.
Furthermore, the truncation of the measure to three statements
(necessary given the age of the participants) may have also
contributed to the lack of effects. Future research might
usefully examine alternative measurement techniques to
capture the concept of self-objectification, for example the
adapted version of the Self-Objectification Questionnaire
Jongenelis et al. (2014)
that was successfully
used with girls and boys from 6 years of age, or the
preference for sexualized clothing measure developed by
and Tiggemann (2016)
With respect to career cognitions, although there was no
impact of the appearance-related game, overall girls
reported that they could do significantly fewer jobs than boys
could do. Sadly, these findings seemingly indicate that
British girls, like their American counterparts, feel that boys
can achieve more than they can when it comes to future
careers. However, importantly, the current study added an
additional question to the original protocol reported by
Sherman and Zurbriggen (2014)
, and asked whether “other
girls could do this job”. Interestingly this addition revealed
that girls felt they could not only do significantly fewer jobs
than boys, but also fewer than other girls. This suggests that
the observed discrepancy between what girls themselves
believe they can achieve and what boys can achieve may
not necessarily be a result of the gender of the comparison
target but reflects either a general modesty in
selfpresentation or lack of self-confidence in girls. These
findings appear to align with existing research that suggests that
females adopt a more modest self-presentation style than
(Zook and Russotti 2013)
and that girls often display
lower levels of self-confidence in their abilities and
aspirations than boys
(DeWitt et al. 2013)
Interestingly, although playing the appearance-focused
game did not impact on what occupations girls believed
they could do, it did impact on girls’ career preferences, or
what occupations they wanted to do. Specifically, girls who
played the appearance-focused game expressed a preference
for traditionally feminine occupations compared to girls
who played the control game. This was not the case for
traditionally masculine occupations. Therefore, the
appearance-focused messages inherent in the Dream Date
Dress-up game (e.g., that girls should alter their appearance
in order to be attractive to a boy) may serve to strengthen
traditional gender-role stereotypes when it comes to girls
thinking about their ideal future careers.
The present study was the first to investigate the impact
of playing appearance-focused Internet games on young
girls’ body image and career aspirations. Given the
pervasiveness and the popularity of Internet-based play for young
(Rideout et al. 2010)
, it is critical for researchers to
begin to understand the impact of engagement with this
particular media format. The findings suggest that playing
Internet games that emphasize the importance of appearance
may not be benign for young girls. Although further
research will be necessary to confirm and further elucidate
these findings, at this stage they suggest a number of
practical implications. For parents and educators, being
aware of the games that young girls are playing, and ideally
limiting exposure to those that are laden with appearance
messages, appears prudent. This may be difficult in a
societal landscape that is increasingly focused on
appearance and brimming with products and media heavy with
sexualized messages that are strategically marketed at an
increasingly young audience
(Graff et al. 2013; Murnen
et al. 2016)
. For game makers and marketers, a challenge
appears to be to produce and promote games that appeal to
girls without reinforcing gender role stereotypes and narrow
ideals of feminine beauty. Policy makers could be
encouraged to consider ways of reducing or eliminating such
Although the current research presents some novel and
interesting findings, they must be considered in light of the
study’s limitations. First, the impact of short-term exposure
to only one particular game was explored. However, given
that this style of game (dressing-up, make-over) is
extremely common and popular with girls of this age
1996; Subrahmanyam and Greenfield 1998; Willett 2008)
the findings are noteworthy. Future research could usefully
attempt to measure whether the game characters were
relatable and indeed whether girls are aware of any social
comparison processes. Second, the sample is homogenous
in terms of ethnicity and socioeconomic background, and
findings may not be generalizable. Finally, the current study
examined the impact of Internet games on girls, and future
research will ideally expand to examine the impact of
different types of Internet play on young boys.
The present study has made an important first step in
investigating the impact of appearance-focused Internet
games on the body image and career aspirations of young
girls. Girls who played an appearance-focused Internet
game for 10 min expressed greater body dissatisfaction
compared to girls who played an appearance-neutral game.
In addition, the appearance-focused game contributed to an
increased preference for traditionally feminine occupations.
The study illuminates that exposure to particular types of
Internet games may be detrimental to girls, not only in terms
of how they come to view their bodies, but also in terms of
their future aspirations, and that these effects may be
apparent at a much earlier age than previously thought.
Internet games should be included in our consideration of
influential sources of appearance-based messages for young
Acknowledgements The authors gratefully acknowledge Ms
Catherine Talbot and Ms Jade Parnell for their assistance with data
collection. The research was funded by the University of the West of
England Vice-Chancellor’s Early Career Research Award awarded to
Author Contributions A.S. conceived the study, participated in the
design and overall coordination of the study, participated in the data
acquisition process, and drafted the manuscript. E.H. participated in
the conception and design of the study, performed the statistical
analyses, and helped to draft the manuscript. H.J. participated in the
design of the study, the data acquisition process, and helped to draft
the manuscript. E.G. participated in the design of the study and the
data acquisition process. All authors read and approved the final
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest The authors declare that they have no conflict of
Ethical Approval The research was approved by the University of
the West of England Human Research Ethics Committee (HAS/15/01/
90). All procedures performed were in accordance with the ethical
standards of the institutional research ethics committee and with the
1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable
Informed Consent Informed written parental consent and informed
verbal assent was obtained for all individual participants included in
Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://
creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted
use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give
appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a
link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were
Amy Slater is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Appearance
Research at the University of the West of England. Her major research
interests are body image in children and adolescents, with a particular
focus on the role of media.
Emma Halliwell is a Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Appearance
Research at the University of the West of England. Her research
Hannah Jarman is a Research Associate at the Centre for Appearance
Research at the University of the West of England. Her research
interests are body image and interventions aimed at improving positive
body image, particularly among children.
Emma Gaskin is a Lecturer in Psychology at the University of the
West of England. Her research interests include body image.
American Psychological Association Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls . ( 2007 ). Report of the APA task force on the sexualization of girls . Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/girls/ report-full.pdf.
Anschutz , D. J. , Engels , R. C. M. E. , & Van Strien, T. ( 2012 ). Increased body satisfaction after exposure to thin ideal children's television in young girls showing thin ideal internalisation . Psychology & Health , 27 ( 5 ), 603 - 617 . doi: 10 .1080/08870446. 2011 . 613470 .
Aubrey , J. S. ( 2006 ). Exposure to sexually objectifying media and body self-perceptions among college women: An examination of the selective exposure hypothesis and the role of moderating variables . Sex Roles , 55 ( 3-4 ), 159 - 172 . doi: 10 .1007/s11199-006- 9070-7.
Bailey , R. ( 2011 ). Letting children be children: Report of an independent review of the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood . Retrieved from https://www.gov.uk/gov ernment/publications/letting-children -be-children-report-of-an-in dependent-review-of-the-commercialisation-and-sexualisation-ofchildhood.
Barlett , C. P. , & Harris , R. J. ( 2008 ). The impact of body emphasizing video games on body image concerns in men and women . Sex Roles , 59 ( 7-8 ), 586 - 601 .
Berry , G. L. ( 2003 ). Developing children and multicultural attitudes: The systemic psychosocial influences of television portrayals in a multimedia society . Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology , 9 ( 4 ), 360 .
Bussey , K. , & Bandura , A. ( 1999 ). Social cognitive theory of gender development and differentiation . Psychological Review , 106 ( 4 ), 676 .
Calogero , R. M. , Davis , W. , & Thompson , J. K. ( 2005 ). The role of self-objectification in the experience of women with eating disorders . Sex Roles , 52 ( 1-2 ), 43 - 50 . doi: 10 .1007/s11199-005- 1192-9.
Calogero , R. M. , Pina , A. , Park , L. E. , & Rahemtulla , Z. ( 2010 ). Objectification theory predicts college women's attitudes toward cosmetic surgery . Sex Roles , 63 ( 1-2 ), 32 - 41 .
Calogero , R. M. , & Thompson , J. K. ( 2009 ). Potential implications of the objectification of women's bodies for women's sexual satisfaction . Body Image , 6 ( 2 ), 145 - 148 .
Carr , D. ( 2005 ). Contexts, gaming pleasures, and gendered preferences . Simulation & Gaming , 36 ( 4 ), 464 - 482 .
Coy , M. ( 2009 ). Milkshakes, lady lumps and growing up to want boobies: how the sexualisation of popular culture limits girls' horizons . Child Abuse Review , 18 ( 6 ), 372 - 383 . doi: 10 .1002/car. 1094.
Devine , P. , & Lloyd , K. ( 2012 ). Internet use and psychological wellbeing among 10-year-old and 11-year-old children . Child Care in Practice , 18 ( 1 ), 5 - 22 .
DeWitt , J., Osborne , J. , Archer , L. , Dillon , J. , Willis , B. , & Wong , B. ( 2013 ). Young children's aspirations in science: The unequivocal, the uncertain and the unthinkable . International Journal of Science Education , 35 ( 6 ), 1037 - 1063 . doi: 10 .1080/09500693. 2011 . 608197 .
Dittmar , H. , Halliwell , E. , & Ive , S. ( 2006 ). Does Barbie make girls want to be thin? The effect of experimental exposure to images of dolls on the body image of 5- to 8-year-old girls . Developmental Psychology , 42 ( 6 ), 283 - 292 . doi: 10 .1037/ 0012 - 1649 . 42 .6.1258.
Dohnt , H. K. , & Tiggemann , M. ( 2005 ). Peer influences on body dissatisfaction and dieting awareness in young girls . British Journal of Developmental Psychology , 23 ( 1 ), 103 - 116 . doi: 10 . 1348/026151004X20658.
Dohnt , H. K. , & Tiggemann , M. ( 2006 ). The contribution of peer and media influences to the development of body satisfaction and self-esteem in young girls: A prospective study . Developmental Psychology , 42 ( 5 ), 929 - 936 . doi: 10 .1037/ 0012 - 1649 . 42 . 5.929.
Downs , E. , & Smith , S. L. ( 2010 ). Keeping abreast of hypersexuality: A video game character content analysis . Sex Roles , 62 ( 11 - 12 ), 721 - 733 .
Fredrickson , B. L. , Roberts , T.-A., Noll , S. M. , Quinn , D. M. , & Twenge , J. M. ( 1998 ). That swimsuit becomes you: Sex differences in self-objectification, restrained eating, and math performance . Journal of Personality and Social Psychology , 75 ( 1 ), 269 - 284 .
Gapinski , K. , Brownell , K. , & LaFrance , M. ( 2003 ). Body objectification and “fat talk”: Effects on emotion, motivation, and cognitive performance . Sex Roles , 48 ( 9 - 10 ), 377 - 388 . doi: 10 .1023/A: 1023516209973 .
Gorriz , C. M. , & Medina , C. ( 2000 ). Engaging girls with computers through software games . Communications of the ACM , 43 ( 1 ), 42 - 49 .
Grabe , S. , Ward , L. , & Hyde , J. S. ( 2008 ). The role of the media in body image concerns among women: A meta-analysis of experimental and correlational studies . Psychological Bulletin , 134 ( 3 ), 460 - 476 . doi: 10 .1037/ 0033 - 2909 . 134 .3.460.
Graff , K. , Murnen , S. , & Krause , A. ( 2013 ). Low-cut shirts and highheeled shoes: Increased sexualization across time in magazine depictions of girls . Sex Roles , 69 ( 11 - 12 ), 571 - 582 . doi: 10 .1007/ s11199-013-0321-0.
Greenleaf , C. ( 2005 ). Self-objectification among physically active women . Sex Roles , 52 ( 1 ), 51 - 62 . doi: 10 .1007/s11199-005-1193-8.
Groesz , L. M. , Levine , M. P. , & Murnen , S. K. ( 2002 ). The effect of experimental presentation of thin media images on body satisfaction: A meta-analytic review . International Journal of Eating Disorders , 31 ( 1 ), 1 - 16 . doi: 10 .1002/eat.10005.
Hargreaves , D. A. , & Tiggemann , M. ( 2004 ). Idealized media images and adolescent body image: “Comparing” boys and girls . Body Image , 1 ( 4 ), 351 - 361 . doi: 10 .1016/j.bodyim. 2004 . 10 .002.
Harper , B. , & Tiggemann , M. ( 2008 ). The effect of thin ideal media images on women's self-objectification, mood, and body image . Sex Roles , 58 ( 9 - 10 ), 649 - 657 . doi: 10 .1007/s11199-007-9379-x.
Harriger , J. , Calogero , R. , Witherington , D. C. , & Smith , J. ( 2010 ). Body size stereotyping and internalization of the thin ideal in preschool girls . Sex Roles , 63 ( 9 - 10 ), 609 - 620 . doi: 10 .1007/ s11199-010-9868-1.
Harrison , K. , & Hefner , V. ( 2006 ). Media exposure, current and future body ideals, and disordered eating among preadolescent girls: A longitudinal panel study . Journal of Youth and Adolescence , 35 ( 2 ), 146 - 156 . doi: 10 .1007/s10964-005-9008-3.
Hart , L. M. , Cornell , C. , Damiano , S. R. , & Paxton , S. J. ( 2015 ). Parents and prevention: A systematic review of interventions involving parents that aim to prevent body dissatisfaction or eating disorders . International Journal of Eating Disorders , 48 ( 2 ), 157 - 169 . doi: 10 .1002/eat.22284.
Hayes , S. , & Tantleff-Dunn , S. ( 2010 ). Am I too fat to be a princess? Examining the effects of popular children's media on young girls' body image . British Journal of Developmental Psychology , 28 ( 2 ), 413 - 426 . doi: 10 .1348/026151009X424240.
Herbozo , S. , Tantleff-Dunn , S. , Gokee-Larose , J. , & Thompson , J. ( 2004 ). Beauty and thinness messages in children's media: A content analysis . Eat Disord , 12 , 21 - 34 .
Jones , D. C. , & Crawford , J. K. ( 2006 ). The peer appearance culture during adolescence: Gender and body mass variations . Journal of Youth and Adolescence , 35 ( 2 ), 243 - 255 . doi: 10 .1007/s10964- 005-9006-5.
Jongenelis , M. I. , Byrne , S. M. , & Pettigrew , S. ( 2014 ). Self-objectification, body image disturbance, and eating disorder symptoms in young Australian children . Body Image , 11 ( 3 ), 290 - 302 . doi: 10 .1016/j.bodyim. 2014 . 04 .002.
Kafai , Y. ( 1996 ). Gender Differences in Children's Constructions of Video Games . In P. Greenfield & R. Cocking (Eds.), Interacting with Video (Vol. 11 ). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
Kunkel , D. , Wilcox , B. L. , Cantor , J. , Palmer , E. , Linn , S. , & Dowrick , P. ( 2004 ). Report of the APA task force on advertising and children . Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Liben , L. S. , Bigler , R. S. , & Krogh , H. R. ( 2002 ). Language at work: Children's gendered interpretations of occupational titles . Child Development , 73 ( 3 ), 810 - 828 . doi: 10 .1111/ 1467 - 8624 . 00440 .
Livingstone , S. , Haddon , L. , Görzig , A. , & Ólafsson , K. ( 2011 ). Technical report and user guide: The 2010 EU kids online survey .
Martin , C. L. , Ruble , D. N. , & Szkrybalo , J. ( 2002 ). Cognitive theories of early gender development . Psychological Bulletin , 128 ( 6 ), 903 .
Martins , N. , Williams , D. C. , Harrison , K. , & Ratan , R. A. ( 2009 ). A content analysis of female body imagery in video games . Sex Roles , 61 ( 11 - 12 ), 824 - 836 .
Martins , Y. , Tiggemann , M. , & Kirkbride , A. ( 2007 ). Those speedos become them: The role of self-objectification in gay and heterosexual men's body image . Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin , 33 ( 5 ), 634 - 647 .
Mathers , M. , Canterford , L. , Olds , T. , Hesketh , K. , Ridley , K. , & Wake , M. ( 2009 ). Electronic media use and adolescent health and well-being: cross-sectional community study . Academic Pediatrics , 9 ( 5 ), 307 - 314 .
Muehlenkamp , J. J. , & Saris-Baglama , R. N. ( 2002 ). Self-objectification and its psychological outcomes for college women . Psychology of Women Quarterly , 26 ( 4 ), 371 - 379 .
Muehlenkamp , J. J. , Swanson , J. D. , & Brausch , A. M. ( 2005 ). Selfobjectification, risk taking, and self-harm in college women . Psychology of Women Quarterly , 29 ( 1 ), 24 - 32 .
Murnen , S. K. , Greenfield , C. , Younger , A. , & Boyd , H. ( 2016 ). Boys act and girls appear: A content analysis of gender stereotypes associated with characters in children's popular culture . Sex Roles , 74 ( 1-2 ), 78 - 91 .
Neumark-Sztainer , D. , Wall , M. , Larson , N. , Story , M. , Fulkerson , J. , Eisenberg , M. , & Hannan , P. ( 2012 ). Secular trends in weight status and weight-related attitudes and behaviors in adolescents from 1999 to 2010 . Prev Med , 54 , 77 - 81 .
Ofcom. ( 2014 ). Children and parents: Media use and attitudes report . Retrieved from http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/ research/media-literacy/media-use-attitudes-14/Childrens_2014_ Report .pdf
Oliver , M. B. , & Green , S. ( 2001 ). Development of gender differences in children's responses to animated entertainment . Sex Roles , 45 ( 1-2 ), 67 - 88 .
Paxton , S. J. , Eisenberg , M. E. , & Neumark-Sztainer , D. ( 2006 ). Prospective predictors of body dissatisfaction in adolescent girls and boys: A five-year longitudinal study . Developmental Psychology , 42 ( 5 ), 888 .
Quantcast. ( 2016 ). Quantcast. Retrieved from https://www.quantcast. com/friv.com?qcLocale=en_GB
Ricciardelli , L. A. , & McCabe , M. P. ( 2001 ). Dietary restraint and negative affect as mediators of body dissatisfaction and bulimic behavior in adolescent girls and boys . Behaviour Research and Therapy , 39 ( 11 ), 1317 - 1328 .
Rice , K. , Prichard , I. , Tiggemann , M. , & Slater , A. ( 2016 ). Exposure to Barbie: Effects on thin-ideal internalisation, body esteem and body dissatisfaction among young girls . Body Image , 19 , 142 - 149 .
Rideout , V. J. , Foehr , U. G. , & Roberts , D. F. ( 2010 ). Generation M2: Media in the lives of 8-to 18-year-olds . Menlo Park, CA: Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.
Rudy , R. M. , Popova , L. , & Linz , D. G. ( 2011 ). Contributions to the content analysis of gender roles: An introduction to a special issue . Sex Roles , 64 ( 3-4 ), 151 - 159 .
Sherman , A. , & Zurbriggen , E. ( 2014 ). “Boys can be anything”: Effect of Barbie play on girls' career cognitions . Sex Roles , 70 , 195 - 208 . doi: 10 .1007/s11199-014-0347-y.
SimilarWeb. ( 2016 ). Website ranking: Top 50 sites in the world for games Retrieved from https://www .similarweb.com/category/ Games/Online
Slater , A. , & Tiggemann , M. ( 2010 ). Body image and disordered eating in adolescent girls and boys: A test of objectification theory . Sex Roles , 63 ( 1-2 ), 42 - 49 . doi: 10 .1007/s11199-010-9794-2.
Slater , A. , & Tiggemann , M. ( 2016 ). Little girls in a grown up world: Exposure to sexualized media, internalization of sexualization messages, and body image in 6-9 year-old girls . Body Image , 18 , 19 - 22 .
Smolak , L. ( 2012 ). Body image development - girl children . In T. F. Cash (Ed.), Encyclopedia of body image and human appearance (Vol. 1 , pp. 212 - 218 ): Academic Press.
Smolak , L. , & Murnen , S. K. ( 2011 ). The sexualization of girls and women as a primary antecedent of self-objectification . In R. M. Calogero , S. Tantleff-Dunn , & J. K. Thompson (Eds.), Selfobjectification in women: Causes, consequences, and counteractions (pp. 53 - 75 ). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association.
Spiel , E. C. , Paxton , S. J. , & Yager , Z. ( 2012 ). Weight attitudes in 3- to 5-year-old children: Age differences and cross-sectional predictors . Body Image , 9 ( 4 ), 524 - 527 . doi: 10 .1016/j.bodyim. 2012 . 07 .006.
Starr , C. , & Ferguson , G. ( 2012 ). Sexy dolls, sexy grade-schoolers? Media & maternal influences on young girls' self-sexualization . Sex Roles , 67 ( 7 ), 463 - 476 . doi: 10 .1007/s11199-012-0183-x.
Steer , A. , & Tiggemann , M. ( 2008 ). The role of self-objectification in women's sexual functioning . Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology , 27 ( 3 ), 205 - 225 . doi: 10 .1521/jscp. 2008 . 27 .3.205.
Stice , E. ( 2002 ). Risk and maintenance factors for eating pathology: A meta-analytic review . Psychological Bulletin , 128 ( 5 ), 825 - 848 . doi: 10 .1037/ 0033 - 2909 . 128 .5.825.
Subrahmanyam , K. , & Greenfield , P. M. ( 1998 ). Computer games for girls: What makes them play . In J. Cassell & H. Jenkins (Eds.) , From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: gender and computer games (pp. 46 - 71 ). USA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Thompson , J. K. , Heinberg , L. J. , Altabe , M. , & Tantleff-Dunn , S. ( 1999 ). Exacting beauty: Theory, assessment, and treatment of body image disturbance . Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Tiggemann , M. , & Boundy , M. ( 2008 ). Effect of environment and appearance compliment on college women's self-objectification, mood, body shame, and cognitive performance . Psychology of Women Quarterly , 32 ( 4 ), 399 - 405 . doi: 10 .1111/j.1471- 6402 . 2008 . 00453 .x.
Tiggemann , M. , & Kuring , J. K. ( 2004 ). The role of body objectification in disordered eating and depressed mood . British Journal of Clinical Psychology , 43 ( 3 ), 299 - 311 . doi: 10 .1348/0144665031752925.
Tiggemann , M. , & Miller , J. ( 2010 ). The Internet and adolescent girls' weight satisfaction and drive for thinness . Sex Roles , 63 ( 1-2 ), 79 - 90 . doi: 10 .1007/s11199-010-9789-z.
Tiggemann , M. , & Pennington , B. ( 1990 ). The development of gender differences in body-size dissatisfaction . Australian Psychologist , 25 ( 3 ), 306 - 313 . doi: 10 .1080/00050069008260025.
Tiggemann , M. , & Slater , A. ( 2001 ). A test of objectification theory in former dancers and non-dancers . Psychology of Women Quarterly , 25 ( 1 ), 57 - 64 . doi: 10 .1111/ 1471 - 6402 . 00007 .
Tiggemann , M. , & Slater , A. ( 2013 ). NetGirls: The internet, facebook, and body image concern in adolescent girls . International Journal of Eating Disorders , 46 ( 6 ), 630 - 633 . doi: 10 .1002/eat.22141.
Tiggemann , M. , & Slater , A. ( 2014 ). NetTweens: The internet and body image concerns in preteenage girls . The Journal of Early Adolescence , 34 ( 5 ), 606 - 620 . doi: 10 .1177/0272431613501083.
Tiggemann , M. , & Wilson-Barrett , E. ( 1998 ). Children's figure ratings: Relationship to self-esteem and negative stereotyping . International Journal of Eating Disorders , 23 ( 1 ), 83 - 88 . doi: 10 .1002/% 28SICI% 291098 - 108X % 28199801 % 2923 : 1%3C83::AIDEAT10%3E3.0 .CO; 2 -O.
Tylka , T. L. , & Hill , M. S. ( 2004 ). Objectification theory as it relates to disordered eating among college women . Sex Roles , 51 ( 11 ), 719 - 730 . doi: 10 .1007/s11199-004-0721-2.
Tzampazi , F. , Kyridis , A. , & Christodoulou , A. ( 2013 ). 'What will I be when I grow up?'Children's preferred future occupations and their stereotypical views . International Journal of Social Science Research , 1 ( 1 ), 19 - 38 .
Vandenbosch , L. , & Eggermont , S. ( 2012 ). Understanding sexual objectification: A comprehensive approach toward media exposure and girls' internalization of beauty ideals, self-objectification, and body surveillance . Journal of Communication , 62 ( 5 ), 869 - 887 . doi: 10 .1111/j.1460- 2466 . 2012 . 01667 .x.
Want , S. C. ( 2009 ). Meta-analytic moderators of experimental exposure to media portrayals of women on female appearance satisfaction: Social comparisons as automatic processes . Body Image , 6 ( 4 ), 257 - 269 .
Ward , L. M. ( 2016 ). Media and sexualization: State of empirical research, 1995 - 2015 . The Journal of Sex Research , 53 ( 4-5 ), 560 - 577 .
Wertheim , E. H. , Paxton , S. J. , & Blaney , S. ( 2009 ). Body image in girls . In L. Smolak, & J. K. Thompson (Eds.), Body image, eating disorders, and obesity in youth: Assessment, prevention, and treatment . 2nd edn . (pp. 47 - 76 ). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Willett , R. ( 2008 ). 'What you wear tells a lot about you': Girls dress up online . Gender and Education , 20 ( 5 ), 421 - 434 .
Zook , J. M. , & Russotti , J. M. ( 2013 ). Academic self-presentation strategies and popularity in middle school . The Journal of Early Adolescence , 33 ( 6 ), 765 - 785 .