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Free to be 2.0: Leveraging Similarities to Bridge Differences

Fri, May 25, 9:30 to 10:45, Hilton Old Town, M, Dvorak I

Abstract

The popular 1970s Free To Be musical album and television special gave children permission to be different. The campaign’s emphasis on individuality, tolerance, and mutual respect are as needed today as ever, and a revival is underway to help today’s tweens navigate these divisive times. To ensure that Free To Be 2.0 presents these themes in ways relevant to today’s youth, we conducted a nationally representative online survey of 1,500 10–13-year-olds and focus groups in two diverse US communities. We will share findings from both studies, which oversampled under-heard youth and queried children on how they experience and respond to difference. We found that shared interests appear to make tweens willing to interact with peers from different demographic backgrounds. Furthermore, tweens take pride in the activities and interests that set them apart from their peers, distinctions that they want to see portrayed in TV shows produced for them and about them.

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