By P. Asha Ritu:
Are you relaxed about the fact that your kid enjoys watching cartoons on television? That s/he sticks to the television and jumps at the very sight of ‘Tom and Jerry’ or ‘Dexter’? All this might seem normal to any parent raising a kid/s but some deep thinking might ring a bell! Today, children have become addicted to cartoon shows and follow them rather rigorously! They begin watching cartoons at an age as early as six months and by the age of two or so; the kids become ‘loyal customers’!
But are cartoons just some characters on the screen doing things that make your kids laugh and applaud or do they affect the kids on psychological, behavioral, and mental levels?
Research says that although kids enjoy cartoons on a very conscious level, their subconscious is equally affected. Gradually, they begin to act and reciprocate as the cartoons on the television would. They begin to perceive the real world as the cartoon character’s world and enact accordingly. The stunts done are imagined to be real and performed by kids in real life. The underlined fact here is not the kid’s ignorance in differentiating between the real and the artificial but his perception of the real. At an age, when personalities, choices, tastes begin to get developed in kids, the cartoons have a deep effect on them. So the natural question here is whether this effect is positive or negative?
The most common concern regarding cartoons and kids is the violent content shown in these shows. Whether it is about ‘Tom’ trying to kill ‘Jerry’ or about ‘Dexter’ conducting dangerous experiments, kids take it all! Obviously, at such a tender age, the mind is unable to comprehend that the act is fictional and not meant to be enacted in real life. This in turn results to the ‘n’ number of cases where kids have tried engaging in violence at home and have hurt themselves and/or people in and around them. But many also argue that such acts depend on the perception of the child, and not alone on the content of the show. This can be considered keeping in view that parents play their role of shaping the child’s perception parallel to their viewing experience.
Some researchers have also put forward certain long lasting effects of such content on kids. Apart from the visible immunity to violence, kids are proven to be less sensitized to the pain caused to the other/s, and are likely to grow into violent and aggressive individuals who are excited by any form of violence.
Contrary to such shows, there are shows like Bob the Builder or Noddy or Oswald, or even the Indian cartoons of Tenali Raman, Panchatantra tales, where the content is light and in sink with the mental condition of any kid. Simple stories with a message are something many kids love to watch where their entertainment is mixed with a pinch of value added message. So, don’t these stories excite? Yes they do. Do they help in shaping personalities? They do. Do they help the kids to grow in a better manner? They do.
It’s very important to understand that by merely keeping the kids away from provocative cartoon shows is not the solution, but that even though s/he is exposed to such content on the television, the kid must essentially develop a conscience that will help him/her to make well informed choices in future!
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