Cartoons are undoubtedly the most popular form of kiddies entertainment. There are so many cartoons out right now and available across numerous channels that it’s pretty difficult for a child not to find at least one cartoon he or she enjoys. As a child I lived for cartoons; Pokemon, Smurfs, Brace Face, Pepper Ann who was much to cool for seventh grade, PB&J Otter (my absolute favourite) and even Recess. I spent most of my days in front of the television when I should have been doing some or other kind of chore or my home work for that matter. I knew every last word of Team Rocket’s anthem in Pokemon and could sing most opening songs.
It was an obsession of mine with most weekends and afternoons spent sprawled across the living room floor watching cartoons. As much as I enjoyed a good cartoon, I was also one of those children that would read anything I could get my hands on. In my parent’s house, newspapers were the order of the day. Every Sunday my dad would buy every Sunday paper you could possibly think of and read them from front to back. I got into the habit of doing the same and as a result often came across stories and articles about children being violent because that was what they saw on TV and children jumping off roof tops because Ash (lead actor from Pokemon) commanded them too.
Watching cartoons for me was a temporary escape from the realities of boys, homework and puberty. It allowed my imagination to wonder and I often imagined myself as a Gummi Bear who after drinking a jug of Gummi Berry Juice would bounce here and there and everywhere. I imagined myself traveling with Ash Ketchum and collecting Pokémon in my amazing pokéballs. I imagined all of these things but thankfully I was one of those children that could separate reality from fiction. However, just because I wasn’t out there jumping off rooftops and assaulting other children because I saw it done on Bugs Bunny, it certainly does not mean other kids weren’t doing it.
We live in a world where children are exposed to violence and sex on a daily basis and unfortunately a number of cartoons, meant to be harmless, carry violence and without even realizing it, children may adopt this type of behaviour. I’ll explain, remember Tom and Jerry? Each episode involves chasing each other, fighting and tricking each other. There are explosions, revenge plots and weapons. If it’s ok for Tom and Jerry to do that then surely it’s ok for me to do that…is what goes on in a child’s head. Positive message this is right?
I guess the point I’m trying to make, as a mother, is that in the world we live in today where every minute is a rush to cook a meal, pick up kids and finish up work, we can’t simply dump our children in front of the TV and expect them to know or comprehend that it is merely fiction. By doing so we may inadvertently be exposing our children to aggression and cartoon violence that may encourage them to become aggressive and anti-social.
Children are impressionable little beings who more often than not mimic what they see done in reality and on television screens. We cannot be happy and call it a day because our children aren’t watching sexual content. We need to start looking at the cartoons they watch and realise that Sofia the First and the lessons taught in each episode are a far cry from the endless battle scenes prominent in Samurai Jack.