The Simpsons had a huge impact on the lives of Australian kids, according to a new study, which found it was an influential television series and its iconic characters had a positive impact on school children.
It was a hit for kids in the 1980s and 1990s and also influenced Australian culture, with the Simpsons character portrayed by the late Fred Armisen, becoming a pop culture icon.
Researchers found the show was seen by over one million Australians, with more than 80 per cent of kids between five and 14 watching it at least once a week.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, also found the series had a significant impact on kids’ relationships and social skills, with parents of children who watched the show being less likely to let their children attend school with the characters onscreen.
“While the show has remained in the public domain for decades, the effects of the series on children’s social skills and relationships have not been well-studied,” said the study’s lead author, Dr Rachael Stacey, from the University of Sydney.
Dr Stacey said the research was based on data collected in Australia and New Zealand, and was funded by the Australian Science Foundation.
Children’s attitudes to the show were strongly influenced by its popularity, with some parents saying they wanted their children to have a good relationship with the show, while others felt that the characters were too smart for their own good.
“There’s a lot of good things about the Simpsons, and that’s something we can all learn from,” Dr Stacey told news.com.au.
But not everyone is happy with the results.
In the United States, parents are concerned about the impact the show’s portrayal of race has on their children’s development, and there has been a rise in reports of white characters appearing in the media.
A report by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People last year found that while the show played an important role in helping children learn about race and identity, its depictions of people of colour were “inherently offensive”.
“If a child of color experiences stereotyping, violence, or bullying based on their race, the consequences can be profound,” the report said.
One in three Australian children are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, and the ABC reported that a recent survey found that more than one in three Australians said they felt that race was a very important part of their identity.
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