Black Children love cartoons just as much as all kids, and because of that, some parents make babysitters out of televisions. Nowadays, there are TV channels that show nothing but cartoons. Making children watch Cartoon Network shows all day rules out the possibility that they will watch programs that are too violent for them, right? That could not be more wrong.
How Violent are the Cartoons on TV?
Researchers from the University of Iowa have found that some cartoons display as many as 26 acts of aggression and that there are higher levels of aggression in cartoons than in shows rated for audiences ages 14 and above. Seemingly innocuous cartoons like Looney Tunes may be funny to older children, but could be too violent for children below six.
For instance, Wylie Coyote falls down a cliff and gets flattened by a boulder. Older viewers may find this kind of slapstick comedy in cartoons hilarious because nobody dies anyway. To young children, however, violence in cartoons can be as disturbing as violence portrayed in movies and non-animated TV programs.
There is very little difference in the amount of violence is shown in old and new cartoons. Whether a child watches Tom and Jerry or an action-packed Japanese animated series, he or she is still exposed to violence which is a key ingredient in these shows. That said, newer animations are more graphic and can desensitize children to violence even more.
The Effects of Violent Cartoons on Children
According to a study conducted by the Seattle Children’s Research Institute, preschoolers who watch violent cartoons are more likely to have sleep problems. They may find it difficult to fall asleep and they are more likely to have nightmares. Violent videos are linked to disrupted sleep and could lead to emotional and behavioral problems. On the other hand, reduced exposure to violent media has been found to have positive effects on sleep.
Violent cartoons can also lead to aggressive behavior in children. Researchers at the Iowa State University have found that children tend to imitate the aggression they see on TV. They identify with cartoon characters as much as they do with actors on non-animated TV shows. Aggressive behaviors are often displayed by cartoon heroes that children try to emulate.
Exposure to violent content also leads to desensitization to violence. Desensitization leads to loss of empathy and makes children less willing to help others. It does not take long to desensitize children to violence. A 20- to 30-minute exposure is enough according to Dr. Wayne Warburton, a psychologist from Macquarie University in Australia.
Australian parenting expert, Michael Grose, says that young people who are loners are more susceptible to the psychological effects violence portrayed in media. That is because they have more time to internalize the violent content.
What Should Parents Do?
The television industry does not see violence in cartoons as detrimental to children’s psychological and emotional development. This prevailing attitude makes it increasingly easy for children to access harmful violent content. Parents must monitor what their children watch on TV. Sometimes, they may even need to act as censors.
Since it is next to impossible to prevent children from being exposed to cartoon violence 100% of the time, parents should talk to their children about they see on TV. They must explain that cartoons are not real and point out the behavior that their children should not copy.
Parents also need to regulate their children’s TV viewing time. Too much TV is linked to obesity and makes it more likely for children to watch inappropriate shows. To reduce the time young people spend watching TV, it helps to encourage them to participate in sports and other activities that promote health and fitness.
There is a growing concern about violence in cartoons. The television industry tends to view animated violence as less harmful than non-animated violence. However, as has been said in this article, a significant amount of evidence shows that violence in cartoons negatively affects children. Black Parents must realize that they need to protect their children from the detrimental effects of cartoon violence.