Hidden effects of cartoons on little spectators

By Aynur Aliyeva

Cartoons are the most popular entretainment for children. Currently there are plenty of TV channels that broadcast different cartoons for children non-stop. Whereas previously children spent their time in outdoor activities playing with their peers and enjoying different games, now they prefer watching their favorite characters on TV and get stuck in front of TV sets at home for long hours.

Children have grown much more interested in cartoons in recent years and it has become the main pastime for them. Mostly children begin watching cartoons on television at the early age of six months, and by the age of two or three children become enthusiastic viewers.

In fact, watching TV in moderation can be a good thing: preschoolers can get help learning the alphabet on public television, schoolkids can learn about wildlife on nature shows, and parents can keep up with current events by watching evening news. No doubt about it, television can be an excellent educator and entertainer. But despite its advantages, too much television can be detrimental: children who consistently spend more than 4 hours a day watching TV are more likely to be overweight. Kids who see violent acts are more likely to show aggressive behavior and also may fear that the world is scary and that something bad will happen to them. TV characters often display risky behavior, such as smoking and drinking, and may also reinforce gender-role and racial stereotypes.

How do cartoons influence the psychology of kids? How does this colorful entertainment pose a threat to children? Unfortunately, it should be admitted that this has become a great psychological problem nowadays. Usually children watch television too much, which makes them addicted. For long hours children spend time in front of the television. They watch cartoons even when they eat, because some parents believe it gets easier to feed babies watching television.

Psychologists emphasize the negative impacts of cartoons on children. According to their conclusions, kids who watch cartoons 3-4 hours a day are prone to violence. Moreover, marginalization of cognitive functions, divergence from realities, and an increase of negative behavior might develop over the course of time.

According to studies, infants aged 18 months and older begin to take short-term interest in television. However, after 30 months (2.5 years) they might be called active 'viewers'. They gain the ability to imitate behavior and events that they come across every day. So, we can surely affirm that colorful characters from 'innocent' cartoons may turn into role models that impact a child's psychological state.

Television begins to play a more important role for 3-6 year-old children. Little viewers not only watch television like before but also start to 'apprehend' what they see and obtain information. Parents actually often are not aware of the severity of the situation . They choose an easy way to entertain their kids when they are busy with domestic affairs or daily chores. Without the supervision of their parents children tend to watch cartoons all day long. Adults may be completely unaware that this might have a certain impact on the child's psychological development.

Experts conclude that kids who watch cartoons full of violence tend to be nervous, agressive and belligerent. Moreover, these children are impatient and disobedient. There are three main effects of cartoons that concern violence on children: a) they become insensitive to others' pains and sorrow, b) children do not feel discomfort from any elements of violence around them in real life, c) children are prone to agressive reactions and violent behavior.

A lot of cartoons that children watch include violence. So, kids acquire ferocity from their funny friends by subliminal perception. For example, 'Tom and Jerry', where a cat and a mouse chase each other. It would be beter to inform people why this cartoon has a downside.

Tom and Jerry is a very popular cartoon. Tom and Jerry are fictional characters; Jerry is very clever and Tom is a little bit of a fool. In this cartoon both of them fight with different tools, which seems funny. But it is dangerous for a child because at this age children learn those activities from cartoons and want to use them in real life.

But the cartoons' negative impact can spoil our children. Cartoons continue to play an important role in popular culture and have a magnificent future. In the 1970s several classic cartoons were censored when broadcast on television because they were considered a bad influence on children. For example, Tom and Jerry was taken off air in some countries because the cartoon often showed explosions, gunshots, physical deformations and weapons.

Cartoon characters however always survive these actions which, in the eyes of critics, is an unrealistic message to children who might believe that when you hurt or kill someone he or she would remain unharmed. It encourages aggressiveness and anti-social behavior, makes children less sensitive to violence and to victims of violence, and increases their appetite for more violence in entertainment and in real life. Cartoon violence is damaging to the children because they cannot tell the difference between real life and fiction.

Today in many cartoons you see its characters jumping, diving, and falling from heights, then landing without being harmed. Parents seem to be happy with this as along as the cartoon doesn't promote sex or any kind of violence.

Television has long been criticized for influencing children. People complain that certain TV shows and cartoons have negative effects on their children. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) both believe that TV does influence the behavior of children as young as one year old.

"Children who view shows in which violence is very realistic, frequently repeated or unpunished are more likely to imitate what they see," AACAP says.

This speaks to the impressionable minds of children, who are still learning control of their minds and bodies, and are likely to mimic what they see. AACAP also stresses the need for parents to keep a close eye on what their children watch. "Parents must be there," AACAP said.

Parents must explain that the cartoon character or actor that was shot has not been harmed, but would actually be seriously injured or die in real life. They should also work to tell their children that violent behavior is not the best course of action to resolve a conflict.

To make cartoons a healthy entertainment and a good and effective source of learning for children parents should pay more attention to providing selected cartoons to their children which could have a positive impact on them. Parents must control the time children spend watching TV. They can choose appropriate cartoons for their children. It would be better if parents also regularly watch and discuss the characters of cartoons with children. This way they will not only keep their kids away from violence but also direct them to different activities.

Let's protect our children from the negative impact of the media! Because healthy children mean a healty future!