Cartoons have played an important role in the lives of children since decades. They were created with an aim to educate children through play way method; to help children learn good manners, problem solving skills, and to bring healthy emotional and social development. But unfortunately now cartoons too are not safe for children. They are polluted with unwanted elements. They give age inappropriate exposure to children. Recently I came across a cartoon series and the theme was pregnancy mood swings, love and romance. The target audience of cartoon series is children. What they have to do with such stuff?
Childhood is a stage of innocence and above all a foundation for healthy personality development. Child is like a wax and can be moulded in any shape. He imbibes what he see. For him nothing is right or wrong. How cartoon characters are dressed, how they behave have deep impact on children. The cartoon series on awareness of sexual abuse also should not provide unnecessary details.
The other issue with cartoon series is that they are more unrealistic. They talk about imaginary things. A cartoon series Bheem; one of the popular and favourite to most kids though encourags helping behaviours and friendship, also shows unrealistic things. He eats ladoos and fights every situation. Nothing is impossible for him and no one overpowers him. What this conveys to little minds that by eating Ladoos they will become strong and fight every hard situation. In another series a child Balveer is shown to be very kind; he has supernatural powers and flies to “Pari lok”(land of the fairies). The other cartoon Doraemon is presented as a character with great wit; who has many gadgets like translation Jelly, Everywhere door. He gets everything done by his secret gadgets; this makes children crave for such gadgets.
The other famous thing in many cartoons is the concept of magic book. A leading cartoon gets whatever he draws on magic book and he doesn’t have to work for anything. Such things make children autistic-thinkers rather than rational thinkers. Instead of this, if we show them the reality of life, keeping in considerations their limits, this will help them more. They should be prepared for the struggles of life from the very beginning, and it is the responsibility of parents to help them differentiate between real and unreal.
Some cartoons breed indiscipline and bullying. Fat or disabled people are bullied and those who bully escape unharmed and this gives message to little minds that it is ok to bully others. There is no harm in it. Likewise some cartoons make use of foul language which children use later. Some are filled with violent scenes and destruction. Watching such cartoons encourages children to become violent in real life. They may imitate the stunts like superman and harm themselves. According to the American Academy of the paediatrics(AAP) Policy statement on virtual violence, watching violent cartoons has detrimental effect on mental health of children and it makes children aggressive and impulsive
Home Message: Parents should not assume that cartoons are just for infotainment. Some cartoons can mar the innocence of children by provoking violence and filthy attitudes; thereby it becomes imperative that parents become conscious of media diet of their children as much as physical diet. What children watch is what they become. Parents should be very vigilant even about subliminal messages and should explain things to children so they can differentiate between real and unreal. Cartoon channel broadcasters should stop playing with innocence of children and beware that their target audience is children, and should only provide them content that boosts their healthy development.