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Research project sheds light on how young audience perceive quality and relevance in fiction films and series

The ongoing research project “Reaching Young Audiences” has now reached a milestone with a report that contains ten take-aways on what children consider to be quality media content, especially when it comes to films and series. Read more in this interview with Pia Majbritt Jensen.

What is your research project about? And why did you choose this research topic?
Our research project is about how Danish children and adolescents define what quality audiovisual fiction is according to them. What is relevant audiovisual fiction and why is it relevant? Why do they like it? The reason why we applied and got the grant from the Independent Research Fund Denmark, is that less and less young people and children watch Danish content. But in the last five years it has accelerated and after the age of ten or eleven, children hardly watch any Danish content, because they then have all these choices with both YouTube and streaming services. 

Who is part of this research project?
Eva Novrup Redvall, associate professor at KU Copenhagen, is the principal investigator, and she is the one who formally applied and got the grant. And then there is associate professor Christa Lykke Christensen and assistant professor Petar Mitric, also from Copenhagen. Furthermore, Katrine Bouschinger Christensen, who is a PhD student, is a part of the project along with two student assistants from Aarhus, MA students Thomas Sehested Larsen and Amanda Skovsager Mouritsen.


Why did you choose to let children and teenagers voice their opinions on the relevance and quality of fiction screen content?
Relevance and quality for children are often defined by others. In Denmark content for children and teenagers has traditionally been curated for them by institutions such as public service broadcasters, cinemas and the Danish Film Institute. I am not saying that this content is not quality, but it is certainly quality from a more adult perspective. Children are used to that, and we can also see it when we talk to them. They know what the adults expect them to say is quality and relevant, but they might prefer something else. And why is that? We tried to make the children answer as much from their own perspective as possible. Because when the kids are being 100% honest, the producers of Danish content can get to know them properly. We hope.

According to you, what are the most interesting findings and results of your project until now? And to whom can the results be relevant?
Until now, I am not surprised that they like Netflix and Disney+. But I am surprised about how much more they like Netflix and Disney+ compared to the Danish platforms. They do not completely dislike ULTRA, DR or TV2, but they are much more into the foreign content. The next step of the project is to examine why this is the case. I hope that the results will be an eye-opener for the industry and might support the rise of co-creation within the industry. Also, academically the results can be very interesting because we do not have that much information on children's opinions on audiovisual fiction in this day and age. 


You are teaching a master course relating to your research this semester. The course is called "Medieindhold til børn og unge" (eng. Media content for children and adolescents). What will the course be about?

It will be about all kinds of media content for children, but of course my teaching will focus on my expertise within the research field. Historically, children’s media use has always been a heated topic, which is why we will discuss and learn about theoretical aspects of this. Additionally, we will discuss social media, streaming, surveillance, and also representation – which I find to be an important aspect especially when it comes to children and young people. An important part of the course will also be the ethical and moral aspects of researching children. 
Throughout the course I will expose the students to the industry and we will attend the Digital Kids Today conference in Filmbyen. Plus, there will be some journalists taking part in the course who work with children and young people. Hopefully this will make the course even more relevant and exciting for the students. Students can get in touch with the industry, and I know that is something they will appreciate. 

What are you looking forward to regarding teaching this course?
I am looking forward to meeting my students. I have in the past decade mainly taught lectures with many students, but I am really looking forward to meeting this much smaller group, and not least teaching a subject that I developed from scratch. I hope the classes can become more like tutorials than lectures. 

Read more about the key take-aways from the survey: https://pure.au.dk/portal/da/persons/pia-majbritt-jensen(2443b903-acd6-4952-88f1-fc3c2ca99be3)/publications/what-is-quality-audiovisual-fiction-as-seen-through-the-eyes-of-young-danish-viewers-results-from-an-explorative-survey-of-817-year-old-children(0c485836-39e7-4f63-8eb2-0bfc015f2d2d).html
Read more about the ongoing research project ‘Reaching Young Audiences’: https://pure.au.dk/portal/da/projects/independent-research-fund-denmark-researching-young-audiences-serial-fiction-and-crossmedia-story-worlds-for-children-and-young-people-rya(01004cc4-7486-41f7-bc83-077a6a1d5350).html