In our fast moving world where TV has become a way of escapism from our daily activities, have we ever wondered what is the impact of cartoons on our kids' health and lifestyle? Are they well-equipped enough to make the difference between the good and the bad?
The constant violence that we have on TV has often made me wonder in what way it should be entertaining to our kids. I have sometimes watched my kids cringe with fear on watching mangas where the concept of battling evils equals to fierce rage.
freedigitalphotos.net/ David Castillo Dominici
While Disney promotes the idea of feeble feminine characters waiting for Prince Charming to save them and have a happily ever after life, likewise, superheroes now come up with a pre-packaged lifestyle which includes the belief that only superpowers can save the world. Since these are merely illusions, they bring a wrong impression of life that most children expect as they grow up, and is more likely to turn into deception when they finally realize that it is far from reality.
Even the innocent Tom and Jerry supports the view that hitting at each other is an acceptable way of living, which is the exact opposite of what we try to instil in our kids.
Too much television kills parent-child interaction which is crucial for the healthy development of a child . I have always believed that there are no better role models for kids than their parents. And, if our children spend most of their time in the company of fictional characters, I wonder what types of morals will be instilled in them if not of risky behaviors, such as smoking, bullying , drinking, or gender-role and racial stereotypes.
Television also discourages extra curriculum activities and exercise in children while increasing the risk of obesity. When watching TV, children stay inactive and have a tendency to snack, thus, putting their health at risk.
Most parents might feel pressurized about using media for faster learning, but I doubt TV programmes will turn them into little Einsteins. On the contrary, television kills the critical thinking abilities and problem solving skills in children. As a matter of fact, I have noticed a rapid decrease in the reading habits in children who prefer to spend their time watching cartoons rather than discovering new stories in books.
Whilst it is almost impossible to ban those cartoons from TV, there is still a possibility of limiting your kids from viewing them. Here are some ideas:
Limit your children's TV viewing time by banning TV during weekdays and use TV as a means of reward to be earned after doing homework and house chores during weekends.
Choose their programmes carefully and make sure they are as realistic as possible.
Watch TV together. Choose a family movie that encourages family values or educational shows that foster interest and learning in hobbies and education (reading, science, etc.) Have a family discussion on what they have learnt on TV and how it should be applied in everyday life. This promotes a sense of family togetherness which also includes parent-children interaction.
Provide them with fun-packed activities like playing outdoors, read to them to increase their reading interest or simply spend quality time with them. Children need to be looked after, not just left by themselves in front of the TV screen.
If you look t cartoons like Tom & Jerry, generations of children have been watching that kind of cartoon violence, and it has not done them any harm. There re definitely shows out there that are a bad influence on kids, but that kind isn't one of them. Some children are admittedly more susceptible and gullible to that sort of thing, but that isn't the fault of television (that's like banning everyone from drinking beer because some people can't be responsible with it); it is the parent that needs to take responsibility, and be aware what kind of programmes are suitable for their individual child.