Watching TV helps to improve self-esteem levels in young white boys - but lowers those in white girls and black children, a new study has showed.
Researchers at Indiana University and the University Of Michigan found that children tend to compare themselves to the characters they watch on the tube.
The study stated that young white males are influenced by older white male characters who are successful, while young females are influenced by often 'one-dimensional' white female characters.
Influence: A study found that self-esteem levels in young girls and black children decrease through watching TV. But levels in white boys, however, rise
Over a one year period, the study looked at a group of 400 black and white preadolescence students from communities throughout the Midwest.
The results, which were published in the June 2012 edition of Communication Research, found that young white boys are offered generally positive ideals of their older selves.
Nicole Martins, an assistant professor of telecommunications in the Indiana University's College of Arts and Sciences who led the research, said: 'Regardless of what show you're watching, if you're a white male, things in life are pretty good for you.
'You tend to be in positions of power, you have prestigious occupations, high education, glamorous houses, a beautiful wife, with very little portrayals of how hard you worked to get there,' she continued.
Young girls are offered very different versions of their older selves.
Dr Martins said: 'If you are a girl or a woman, what you see is that women on television are not given a variety of roles.
'Regardless of what show you're watching, if you're a white male, things in life are pretty good for you'
'The roles that they see are pretty simplistic,' she added. 'They're almost always one-dimensional and focused on the success they have because of how they look, not what they do or what they think or how they got there.'
Young black children were singled out due to the fact they were found to watch an extra ten hours of TV per week than white children.
The study found that black men are often portrayed as negative characters such as hoodlums and hard criminals.
Dr Martins said: 'Young black boys are getting the opposite message: that there is not lots of good things that you can aspire to.
'If we think just about the sheer amount of time they're spending [watching TV], and not the messages, these kids are spending so much time with the media that they're not given a chance to explore other things they're good at that could boost their self-esteem.'
Researchers said they looked at schools in the Midwest due to their diversity but African-Americans were the predominant minority group.
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