Cartoons are the most frequent and easily accessible source of entertainment which we provide to children. With the vastness of media and extension of channels, it has become easier for children to watch their favourite cartoons on a single click and at the same time it has become more convenient for parents to provide children with this all-time favourite activity of theirs.
Time which was previously spent by children in outdoor activities is now replaced, as now they can be found glued to the TV sets for long hours, peering at all sorts of cartoons, mostly without the supervision of elders who are completely unaware that this might have certain effects on their psychological development later on displayed in their behaviour patterns. There is a wide range of cartoons from fairy tales like ‘Beauty and the Beast’ to action-based cartoons like ‘Ben Ten’ and ‘Pokemon’.
Children between the ages of 6-8 have different preferences; girls are usually into fairy tales and animated ‘Barbie’ series whereas boys and some girls even usually have their favourite super hero cartoons like ‘Spiderman’ or ‘Batman’ or action flicks like ‘Bay Blade’ or ‘Dragon Ball-z’. Children are at a stage when their minds are developing and forms impressions easily so parents need to be careful what they expose them with. Children have become much more interested in cartoons over many years and it has become a primary action to some lives.
Typically, children begin watching cartoons on television at an early age of six months, and by the age two or three children become enthusiastic viewers. This has become a problem because too many children are watching too much television and the shows that they are watching (even if they are cartoons) have become violent and addictive. The marketing of cartoons has become overpowering in the United States and so has the subliminal messaging. The marketing is targeted toward the children to cause them to want to view the cartoons on a regular basis, but the subliminal messaging is for the adults’ to target them into enjoying the “cartoons”.
This is unfortunate because children watch the cartoons on the television and they see material that is not appropriate for their age group. The Children who watch too much cartoons on television are more likely to have mental and emotional problems, along with brain and eye injuries and unexpectedly the risk of a physical problem increases. Television’s Effect on the Brain and Eyes In December 1997, an episode of the Japanese cartoon “Pocket Monster” (later renamed “Pokemon” for international distribution) drew worldwide attention after multiple cases of children suffering seizures after watching the episode were reported (Warner, 2004).
Parents began to wonder how the cartoons their children watched affected their mental development. While no former study specifically relating to cartoons has taken place, multiple studies over the years have charted the impact of television on the minds and eyes of developing children. Most eye specialists agree that watching television is not a danger to the eyes, as long as children watch in the right conditions. The room should not be pitch black, and children should not sit closer than five feet away from the screen.
Sitting in a dark room or closer than five feet will not damage the eyes, but will result in eye fatigue. (Adams, 1992). As for the brain, there is scientific evidence that too much television can be detrimental to children. The April 2004 issue of the medical journal Pediatrics published a study done by Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center of Seattle, Washington. The study revealed that children who watched three to four hours of television daily had a 30 to 40 percent greater risk of developing attention deficit disorder than children who did not watch television.
While no specific program is directly responsible, Dr. Dimitri Christakis, leader of the study, speculates that the speed of the images displayed could affect children’s brains (Today’s Chiropractic, 2004). But does watching television give young children seizures? Yes, and no. A study released by The New England Journal of Medicine in July 2004 found that most children who suffered seizures from that December 1997 episode of “Pocket Monsters” had epilepsy, or some other underlying condition that would have caused development of seizures, regardless of whether or not they saw that program (Warner, 2004).
TV’s Effect on Children’s Behavior Television has long been criticized for influencing our children. People complain that certain TV shows are having negative effects on their children. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) both feel that TV does influence the behavior of children as young as one year old. From their studies, the AACAP states, “Children who view shows in which violence is very realistic, frequently repeated or unpunished, are more likely to imitate what they see.
This speaks to the impressionable mindsets of young children, who are still learning control of their minds and bodies, and are likely to mimic what they see, as it seems quite normal to them. The AACAP also stresses the need for parents to keep a close eye on what their children watch. They must be there, the AACAP says, to explain that the cartoon character or actor that was shot has not been harmed, but would actually be seriously injured, or die in real life. They should also work to tell their children that violent behavior is not the best course of action to resolve a conflict.
The AAP states “Neuroscientists have shown that environmental experiences significantly shape the developing brain. ” This again adds to the idea that young children are very impressionable. They paid more attention to the effect of TV on children in their daily lives. “Higher levels” the AAP states, “of television viewing correlate with lowered academic performance, especially reading scores. This may be because television substitutes for reading practice, partially because the compellingly visual nature of the stimulus blocks development of left-hemisphere language circuitry.
A young brain manipulated by jazzy visual effects cannot divide attention to listen carefully to language. ” TV is a very quick medium. Messages are shot at the viewer as if by an automatic rifle. Their minds must be equally as quick to interpret the messages, and with such a “two-minute mind”, many messages are misinterpreted, or confused. When the child becomes used to receiving information at so fast a rate, they lose interest in information that is more detailed and methodical, such as the information received in day-to-day schooling.
Television certainly does affect the children, who find themselves mesmerized by the bright flashing objects, and rapid assault of messages. It is good to know that the leaders of our medical professions feel that parents and supervisors of children are able to help slow the information down, and explain what the messages really mean, so as to have a more positive effect on our children. Auditory Subliminal Messaging in Children’s Cartoons The lessons that the media conveys to those parts of the mind without conscious perception through the cartoons that people watch, are referred to as subliminal messages. If that’s the Democraitc way, I am voting Republican. ”
This was said by Meowth in an episode of “Pokemon” that aired on Monday, October 11th, 2004 at 4:00 p. m. When children watch cartoons, they always pay attention to what is being said. In a child’s subconscious mind, he or she is exposed to auditory subliminal messages that they may never discover, but they will eventually become a part of their lives. Not all auditory subliminal messaging is negative. However, most of these messages have a negative effect on children. The interesting thing about the situation is that these messages are most common in popular cartoons.
SpongeBob Squarepants has been on the air since 1999 on Nickelodeon. Today, it still remains popular and new episodes are still being created. It is now 2004 and people are speaking out against the messages that they found hidden in a number of episodes. The main allegation against SpongeBob Squarepants is its use of metaphors in place of profanity. When he is disappointed, SpongeBob will often yell out “Tartar Sauce”. To an adult ear, that phrase may sound like it is intended to represent a curse word. Also belonging to the Nickelodeon station is “Rugrats”. It has been on the air since 1991.
The show is often seen as prurient or “sex driven”. The last name of the main characters is “Pickles” which is a euphemism for the male genitalia. Lou Pickles usually calls his grandson, Tommy Pickles by the name “sprout”. It has been argued that this nickname is also a euphemism for the male genitalia as well. Angelica Pickles represents the S&M of “Rugrats” because constantly physically and verbally abuses the babies. Lesbianism is also portrayed in this cartoon. Phil and Lil’s mom, Betty Deville is what we would call a “Bull Dyke” because she wears a bandana, hangs out with feminine women, yells a lot, and loves sports.
When parents choose what cartoons to let their children watch, they want to make sure that these cartoons are appropriate for general audiences. If a parent was to find profane or sexual language in the content of a cartoon, they wouldn’t allow their children to watch that cartoon anymore. People who create popular cartoons are careful to not allow any vulgar content to be incorporated into their cartoons. However, every cartoon can’t be made perfectly safe for viewing by children and some of the verbal content may be mistaken for auditory subliminal messages.