We all have watched cartoons while we were growing up and even today cartoons are an integral part of our kids’ childhood. But ours was probably a much simpler time.
Did you know that the number of Kids’ channel in India has grown from 4 in 2001 to 12 in 2011 (TAM Media Research), Cartoon Network being the first entrant in year 1995. What is also interesting is that initially the content available on these channels was made for western markets like Tom and Jerry, Popeye, Dexter etc but now Original Indian content is also gaining eyeballs in these channels with shows like My friend Ganesha, Chhota Bheem, Little Krishna etc. (Source: Kid-Powered TV, Hindustan Times, November 14.2011)
However, my concern is that the initial years of a child’s life are considered to be critical in brain development. TV and other electronic media might be an inhibiting factor in children exercising their creativity, imaginative skills and doing activities involving physical fitness and muscular coordination. Prolonged exposure to TV might also restrict children from interacting with their peers limiting their social skills.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children under 2 do not watch any television and those above 2 year old should not watch more than 1-2 hours of quality programming. However, the quality of content available in our television networks is substandard at the best. It is frequently found that most of the Cartoon videos airing on these channels are unsuitable for watching by small kids especially Toddlers. There is hardly any age defined programming available on Indian TV Networks, so children between the age of 3-5 years end up watching content meant for kids aged 7 and above.
There are no checks on the language, cartoons images, level of violence, behaviour shown in these cartoons meant for kids. There is an unnatural pace in some of these cartoon animation sequences which can be overstimulating and stressful for young minds. Here are my picks on the Cartoons you should probably never let your kids especially toddlers watch:
CARTOONS YOU SHOULD NOT LET YOUR KIDS WATCH
What is it about? Spongebob Squarepants is an American television series about the exploits and adventures of a “Spongebob Squarepants- a Sea Sponge” and his various friends in the underwater city of “Bikini Bottom”.
Why I dislike it? -This cartoon uses violent and dark satirical humor which will be confusing for children who cannot separate reality from fantasy. The action sequences in this cartoon are extremely rapid and studies have found that Preschoolers who watch fast paced cartoons like “SpongeBob Squarepants” have less concentration spans and poor focus compared to children who watch slow paced cartoons.
CRAYON SHIN CHAN
What is it about? – It is a Japanese Manga and anime series which follows the adventures of a five year old Shinnosuke “Shin” Nohara , his family and friends.
Why I dislike it? -Crayon Shin Chan is a pet peeve of mine. Although Shinchan is portrayed as an average schoolgoing child his behaviour can only set bad examples for the children watching it. Shin Chan uses impolite language, age-inappropriate humour, misbehaves with his parents, teachers and friends and is shown as a Smart alec for getting away with all this. I am aware that the show is hugely popular among Indian children but I feel it is a bad role model for kids and is definitely banned in our household.
What is it about? – It is an American media franchise about a Boy named Ben who acquires a watch-like alien device called the Omnitrix which when attached to his wrist allows him to transform into alien creatures.
Why I dislike it? – The show is violent to say the least. The transformation of Ben into various Alien forms is accompanied by dramatic visuals and music which might end up giving nightmares to your young ones. Young children especially Toddlers have yet to discern between reality and fantasy so they might up getting confused about an alternate reality and a world where danger is lurking at every corner. There is also a concern about how Ben and his Cousin Gwen constantly namecall each other using words like Stupid, Doofus etc which is unacceptable.
What is it about?– A Japanese Manga and anime series about an earless robotic cat named Doaremon which travels back in time to aid a Schoolboy, Nobita Nobi.
Why I dislike it? – The lead character is just a Submissive toy in the hands of Nobita, a lazy and mischievous boy. Apparently Doraemon was sent back in time by Nobita’s great grandson to stop him from his self destructive path, but all we can see is that he stands by to watch Nobita’s actions go wrong and then helps him to get out of trouble using his magic gadgets. Nobita also misuses the gadgets of Doraemon to trouble his friends and Parents.The underlying message of the show seems to be that you need to rely on magic to get through various situations in life rather than self confidence and courage.
It is not a coincidence that all these cartoons are wildly popular and have a number of products available under their brand from lunch boxes, school bags to clothing range and toys . Clever marketing strategies and a consumerist approach is the hallmark of all these franchisees.
I think the onus falls on us parents to limit screen time and determine whether we should let our kids watch shows like these and whether we can prevent our children’s behavior to be molded according to the leading characters of these shows.
What cartoons are not allowed in your house? Do you recommend any cartoons safe to watched by kids? Let me know through your comments.