My 8-year-old son, hardly pays any attention and poses sleepy if I attempt to narrate a bed time story to him. He prefers to watch his favorite cartoons like Tom and Jerry, Doraemon, Barbie, etc. and a boom of other cartoons that I hardly have any idea than he does.
Interestingly, children love to watch cartoons on TV even before they learn to speak. I was wondering why and what has changed children in general, especially, in the age group of 2 -10 years who watch cartoons ardently.
When I researched a bit more to inquire about other children of my friends, family and acquaintances, I found the story was not different from mine.
Cartoons in a Conflict state
Children are carefree, innocent and imaginative. They love never ending fun and cartoon is the perfect package for them. It offers fun, happy ending and solution to all problems. It all becomes more relevant when you are living in a conflict ridden society. Conflict means disturbance, ucertainity and loads of sorrows and grief.
There are a number of options for children who live in a peaceful state. Children need physical and mental recreational activities to fulfill their physical and mental needs. If they are not catered ,they lead to emotional tensions which are manifested in maladjusted behavior.
In a peaceful place, children are free to enjoy normal circumstances be it visiting any place at any time without any threat or fear.
Two, there are a number of opportunities in the name of recreation, e.g., one can go to a theatre, swimming pool, visit shopping malls, play favourite games, learn different activities, join children’s club or even go for a stroll without being frisked or interrupted by protests or strikes.
A conflict state is devoid of any means of leisure and entertainment. Children particularly are the worst sufferers of conflict. We have the example of Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Kashmir etc.
One can imagine the psyche of children who live in war zones and how much the conflict disturbs their raw minds. Nothing can compensate their lost childhood under the shadow of the gun. They want toys not gun roars, they want to laugh not scream.
In Kashmir, children are locked for months together in their homes, the frequent hartals and disturbances create panic among our children.
Our children need some entertainment, apart from studies, where they can learn, and at the same time keep pace with the normal circumstances prevailing around them. So cartoons is the perfect choice where they get to know about different cultures, cope with different situations and more importantly have fun.
Government can play an important role in shaping the future of our children. Instead of framing non yielding (skill development programme) schemes for our youth to keep them away from the path of violence, the Govt. should invest in its toddlers, if at all they are serious about saving our youth from the clutches of violence. Todays toddlers are tomorrows young people. So tapping our toddlers is the right way of approaching the problem rather than teach them the same thing when they are already mature. The minds of our kids can be intruded when they are young, and cartoons are an excellent mode of communication that can carry the message well to their raw minds. Since our children admire, relate and follow cartoons. Let Govt. approach big corporates like cartoon network, Walt Disney etc., and get tailor made cartoons developed for conflict states.Where they can be taught through cartoons the repercussions of violence. Tell them violence is not the solution to any problem. Let them understand the difference between peace and violence. Teach them the benefits of a progressive and a healthy nation.
Secondly, cartoons have the power of making not only children happy, but adults also. That’s is the reason why our children enjoy cartoons. It’s more important to teach children rules of staying happier rather than becoming rich. Anybody can become rich provided the resources and luck, but everybody can’t learn the art of being happy. This is wherein cartoons have a role. They teach you the key to happiness. They don’t set targets or competitions or teach violence, or other vices. They just beautifully portray the funny side of our lives and always insist on victory of good over evil and last with a happy ending .
Remember the famous lines of Rambo when he returns a horse that has been kidnapped by war-hawk to the little girl to whom it belonged, he says, ‘because it is important of all to make a little girl very happy.”
These few lines describe the essence of beauty that lies in making our children happy. So let our children set on the roller coaster ride, amidst the turbulences, enjoy their favourite cartoons and be happy.
(The author is Kashmir Bureau Chief of Jammu-based English Daily Arising State)