How Cartoons Positively Influence Children
Cartoons are paintings or drawings designed for humor or caricature. A cartoon maybe in form of videos mostly appearing on television but can also be drawn in magazines to deliver a certain message. Cartoons are non-realistic or semi-realistic drawings or paintings that maybe illustrated in visual art. This art has been around since the middle ages, when it was defined as a preparatory drawing for some art such as tapestry, stained glass or even fresco (Bendazzi, 1984). Cartoons became humorous in nature in the 19th century where they were mostly present in magazines and newspapers. They evolved to comic strips and animated films in the 20th century. Animation is simply a style that images are made to show motion or movement (Bendazzi, 1984). The greatest viewers of cartoons are mostly children but some cartoons also appeal to the adult audience.
Cartoons are the most frequent and easily accessible form of entertainment for children today. Before the advent of cartoons and animations, children would be found outside engaging in games and fun activities. Nowadays, the trend has changed as most children will be found indoors, their little eyes glued to the television screens all day. Most parents are fine with this, seeing that most of their time is spent on other activities like work, therefore cartoons come as a great relief as they keep their children busy while parents go about their duties, as the parents are assured of the safety of their children within the household premises.
The big question is whether these cartoons really add value to the lives of our children. Do the cartoons influence and educate children in a positive way? While it is true that cartoons have both positive and negative effects on our children, the positive effects far outweigh the negative effects of cartoons.
The first and most important effect of watching cartoon in children is its modifying effect on the behavior of children. Research shows that cartoons help form good character and develop good and upstanding morals in the society. The early stages of childhood is when the child’s mind is developing and they form impressions easily therefore they are easily influenced by activities around them. At this early age, they learn to differentiate between bad and good (Witt, 2000). For this reason, it is very important to make the right and the best decisions for one’s child regarding whether or not to watch cartoons. Cartoons regardless of its type develop imagination, increase attention, and improve a kid’s sense of humor. These three things are very important aspects of a child’s character. Imagination and thinking effectively help the child learn how to cope with different experiences of the real world. Children are known by their vivd imaginations and cartoons help develop their imagination and curiosity about life, making life a very thrilling experience.
Children in earlier times would face a lot of danger while in the outside environment including injuries and negative influences from other kids. With the start of cartoon programs, parents may easily monitor their children since they are just in their rooms. The risk of getting injuries reduces once a child is in the house compared to while in the outside environment. Cartoons focus the attention of children to the television set and for this reason all the kids in modern times are always in the house reducing the negative influences from bad company (Hossler, 2004). Being in the house also gives time for kids to socialize with their parents, for instance the parents can join their children in watching these cartoons. This enhances parent – child relationships as the children bond with their parents over activities they enjoy. With the children in the house, parents can strictly monitor and discipline the kids for effective growth. All young children occupy themselves watching cartoons, where else they could spend this time exploring harmful and non-educative things. Young minds need to feed the right information in order for effective growth and development (Hossler, 2004).
There are various cartoons that not only provide wholesome entertainment for children, but also educate them. For example, ‘Dora the Explorer’, is a cartoon that teaches children about shapes and sizes and the identification of colors (Bibi & Zehra, 2012). Such cartoons make learning an exciting adventure and not a boring duty, hence making the children more open to education. Furthermore, studies conducted by The Cambridge University Department of Autism Research have shown that cartoons teach children with autism about human emotions (Smith, 2010). According to the studies, autistic children who because they love order and predictability are often confused by the varying human emotions shown by normal people, are able to learn about these emotions when they are systematically exposed to cartoons, whose episodes feature these emotions as the main story line.
Cartoons can also provide a good guidance to the children by introducing certain characteristics that will mould the children to be respectable people in the future. For instance, children learn about determination and tolerance from such cartoons such as ‘ Looney Tunes’ and the power of good over evil in cartoons such as ‘The Power Puff Girls’. They learn about the value of friendship that is seen in most cartoons and this helps them to develop and keep friendships of their own. When children are exposed to characters, who like themselves, are open, likeable, friendly and adventurous, they are more inclined to mimic these characteristics and develop a better sense about the world and what it is like (Rumpf, 2011 ).
Cartoons not only have positive effects but also a few negative ones, which pose a threat for children. One major negative effect is watching cartoon content that is inappropriate for their age. Some cartoons have violence and inappropriate language, which is unhealthy for their growth. The destruction and violence in other cartoons may influence the attitude of kids. As mentioned before, children are easily influenced by what they see and hear and as a result the negative energy in the cartoons makes the kids behave violently towards their peers.
The aggressiveness witnessed in some adults is mostly due to the influence of their childhood experiences and the resulting foundation that they built during their childhood.
Children tend to copy or observe all behavior shown to them by any source (Witt, 2000). With the improvement of technology, more and more cartoons are being created for children today, and because of the hectic nature of the parents’ jobs, most children are left to watch television without supervision. In addition, too much of watching television prevents kids from socializing with other kids their age. For this reason, they end up knowing little about socializing skills and interaction with other people outside their homes. This is a negative factor to their lives since they barely have experience of the knowledge on how to deal with different things in the real world as they come. They tend to apply what they have seen in cartoons to real life situations and fail miserably since cartoons create a false sense of reality. Too much involvement with electronic media can limit social interaction and obstruct the development of a brain’s social systems (Leu, 2004).
There is also the concern for child safety. In most cartoons, the characters do extra-ordinary things and yet do not get hurt. They fall off very high cliffs, get shot or blown apart by dynamite like The Wild Coyote and the Road Runner, yet they remain unharmed. Being susceptible as they are, children often imitate such behaviors, but unlike the cartoon characters, they end up being hurt seriously or in fatal cases, they end up dying. A story is told in London by BBC analyst Carilton Aquilson about a group of 11 year old boys who were re-enacting a show from their favorite cartoon series, where they buried one of their friends in a sand box, expecting the boy to ‘pop up’ from the sand box like the cartoon character did. Unfortunately the boy suffocated and died in the sand box, unable to save himself (Rumpf, 2011 ).
Lastly, increased viewing of television has been linked with lowered academic performance because the television substitutes reading partially because a young brain cannot listen carefully to language when viewing visual characters on the television (Leu, 2004).
Despite all this, cartoons are very good influence to the character and behavior of kids as well as a cure of boredom. Cartoons mostly help the growth of children in all aspects. The few negative influences that seem uncontrollable to parents may be easily turned around to positives through strict monitoring. Researchers show that controlled watching of cartoons is healthy and crucial in the development of a child especially concerning the intelligence, creativity, and imagination of a child. It is therefore very important to provide a healthy environment to children, one without violence and negativity. Curiosity only sets in when something is amiss or does not make any sense to the child and parents should take advantage of this opportunity to explain the reality of life to their children. Most parents prefer telling little white lies to their children in an effort to quell their curiosity but parents should be able to tell their children the truth so that they are not misguided into wrongful behavior that could have been avoided in the first place.
The influence of cartoons can be made positive permanently by a little effort on the parents’ or guardians’ side. They should select appropriate cartoons for the children as well as keeping an eye on the children’s activities. They should also be observant of the children’s behavioral changes and make the necessary adjustments to ensure that the children grow up to be well-rounded and proper individuals in the society.
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