The modern era allows the use of all the benefits of civilization. They make everyday life easier, improve quality of life and increase the possibility of obtaining information. One of the most important sources of information today is television. Through telecasts, videos, commercials, movies and cartoons, information is shown not in its pure and abstract form, but in a processed form, which is intended to form the perception of an event and create a certain point of view. If an adult can filter and analyze the information provided to him, a child is fully sensible to the information flow.
Any work whether it is a story, music, or a cartoon carries some meaning. Personality formation is directly dependent on the content of these products. In the modern conditions, children have an opportunity to watch a variety of cartoons at any time. While a child is fascinated by a cartoon, parents get free time, during which they can do their own business. However, parents have to pay attention to what will be on a screen, and what idea a child can bear after viewing a particular cartoon. The strongest aspect of child's perception of reality can be considered an effect of cartoons on children. The effect in most cases has a negative impact on a child’s state of mind and on the formation of his/her personality.
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Few parents think about how a child's personality is formed while watching a cartoon. Examining infants and preschool children, psychologists look at how they understand their world and reality, as well as at the formation of their identity. Many cartoons combine fantasy with reality, a picture with music. It creates a certain pedagogical and educational complex. Some cartoons result in happy emotions, desire to imitate their cartoon characters and also form a positive attitude of a child. There are two types of cartoons: those that imitate the adult life and those that are engaged in the creation of the world with its own laws.
Animated films are loved by children of all ages. On the one hand, they are bright, imaginative and simple, and unobtrusive and available, on the other hand. Cartoons are close in their developmental, educational opportunities to tales, games, and live human interaction. Characters of animated films show a great variety of ways to interact with the world. They form the primary concepts of good and evil and standards of good and bad behavior. By comparing themselves with their favorite characters, children have an opportunity to learn how to see themselves positively, to cope with their fears and difficulties, and to respect others. Events taking place in a cartoon can raise awareness of a child, develop thinking and imagination, and shape his/her outlook. A cartoon is an effective means of educating a child.
Unfortunately, a lot of cartoons are constructed psychologically, educationally or ethically illiterate. Cartoons can have dangerous consequences for a child. “Television has been demonstrated to have an effect on a wide variety of behaviors in children, including aggression, prosocial behavior and cognitive skills”. (Davidson, Yasuna & Tower 597).
The main characters of cartoons can be aggressive. They tend to cause harm to others, often maim or kill other characters. Details of the brutal, aggressive attitude are repeated. The consequences of viewing of such cartoons can be the display of brutality, ruthlessness and aggression of a child in a real life. TV scenes of violence seen by children increase their aggressiveness and form not the best character traits.
“The homicide rate among young people has doubled since 1950” (Osofsky 33). Today's children are more apt to imitate adult life with its aggression and brutality. Cartoons drain a child emotionally. Child’s energy goes into the null character, and the game generated by a cartoon is devoid of novelty and usefulness. People are dealing with a "robot baby" captured by animation, tied to a screen. Children overwhelm their own "I" and admire invincible and all-powerful cartoon characters. “Media exposure can contribute to children’s fears and anxieties” (Wilson 90).
While watching cartoons, the focus of child’s attention is the main characters, and their behaviors perceive. For example, there is a constant rivalry between the cat and the mouse in the cartoon "Tom and Jerry". Characters do not compete at positive things, but who will be quicker, who can outsmart each other, have hurt, surreptitiously put the stretcher. Conclusions that can gain a child by viewing this cartoon are the following: it is fun to offend those who are weaker; it is not a sin to deceive, to trip or to kick a comrade. This is the reason for close monitoring of child’s behavior in the street and children's educational institutions. The child can keep to the line of conduct of a negative hero. The child begins to hurt weaker kids and does not feel any guilt. In this case a child has an excuse because parents let him watch those cartoons.
Modern cartoons are replete with images of an adult world. The image of a princess is getting hotter. Her attractive feminine features are highlighting: a small waist, big breasts and wide hips. Girls form standards of an ideal figure on the basis of such appearance and become upset if they do not look like their favorite beautiful character. Consequences can be disastrous - girls retreat into themselves and have an inferiority complex. “Girls as young as 6 years old experience body dissatisfaction, as evidenced by a preference for an ideal figure that is thinner than their perceived current body size” (Hayes & Tantleff-Dunn 415). Meanwhile, boys fall in love only in treasured beauties. Unceremonious behavior of characters also surprises: frank advances, excessive flirting and rapturous kisses. All this is too much for child's perception. He/she is not able to understand what a sexual relationship is. It is unnecessary to show all of this in cartoons.
Forms of non-standard sex-role behavior are translated: male beings behave as female representatives and vice versa. Characters wear inappropriate clothes. A person can imagine what consequences a preschooler may have while viewing such scenes. It is known that the pre-school age is a period of active sexual identity of a child. Sponge Bob Square Pants was accused of spoiling children's behavior. Some psychologists state that he impairs the ability of children to concentrate, and encourages homosexual love.
Deviant behavior of cartoon characters is not punished. No one spanks a character that breaks the standard rules. Eventually, a small viewer fixes an idea about the possibility of such behaviors. Taboos are removed. Standards of right and wrong actions, permissible and unacceptable behavior are loosened.
Behavior, which is life-threatening for a child, is demonstrated. Viewing of such role models may lead to lowering of a pain barrier, and, therefore, to potential injuries. The imitation of dangerous scenes from the life of a hero is terrible. A child may try to jump out of the balcony, knowing that Chip and Dale did this repeatedly and became heroes. If parents are unable to control the leisure of their child, they should at least tell the difference between a real life and a cartoon. Otherwise, it will be a big trouble. Scenes of disrespect of people, animals and plants are very common. Unpunished mockery, for example, over old age, infirmity, helplessness and weakness is shown. "Educational" effect of a systematic view of these cartoons will not take very long time. A close adult will be the first who feels it in the form of cynical utterances, obscene gestures, indecent assault, cruelty and ruthlessness.
Unsympathetic and sometimes even ugly characters are used. Appearance of characters in cartoons is especially important to a child. Positive characters should be cute and beautiful, and negative - on the contrary. When all characters are awful, ugly, scary, regardless of their role, a child has no clear benchmarks to assess their actions. In addition, when a child is forced to imitate, to identify himself/herself with an unsympathetic character, internal sense of a kid suffers.
A large number of cartoons in the public domain often lead to the formation of cartoon dependence. Besides, modern animators create cartoon serials. Gradually, a child hooks on viewing cartoons, and it becomes very difficult to remove him/her from the screen. It is a real problem to engage a child in the real work. Reading books, playing with friends - all of these require some efforts. During games, children often have to argue, sort things out, take offense and put up. A cartoon saves them from these vital nuances. Bright painted friends can brighten up the child’s leisure. It is not necessary to share toys or establish relations with them. Children gradually become accustomed to cartoons. It will be not easy to replace cartoons with real work. There will be tantrums and attempts to win back the right to unlimited viewing of cartoons. Impact of cartoons ends when a child in a sudden stop of viewing gets nervous, and starts crying. To calm the child down, parents turn on a cartoon again, not realizing that the child have fallen into addiction. Because of this a child has poor grades at school. “Television viewing is consistently blamed for a myriad of social and developmental problems, including poor school achievement” (Wright, Huston, Murphy, Peters, Pinon, Scantlin & Kotler 1347).
There are some rules for parents to prevent the addiction. First of all, parents should choose cartoons for children very carefully. Children should watch cartoons, which provide correct references: kindness, cooperation, hard work and compassion. When choosing a TV show or a cartoon for a child, parents should be ten times more careful than when choosing a book, because visual images affect the child much stronger. Parents must discuss the content of the viewed cartoons. Through reproduction of sequence of events, a child develops a clear and whole picture of what is happening in a cartoon. Parents do not have to "overfeed" children with cartoons. A good cartoon should be a reward and a celebration.
Nowadays a lot of cartoon characters are used in magazines to advertise tobacco and alcohol. This bright and colorful advertising attracts a lot of children, who begin to take a good look at it. “A disproportionate number of cartoon characters in cigarette advertisements appeared in magazines” (Kelly, Slater, Karan & Hunn 190).
Viewing of cartoons has to be dosed. Parents should allow their children to watch not more than one cartoon per day. Parents have to draw their attention to how much time they spend in front of the TV screen.
Any cartoon will not replace live communication between parents and children. Every child really needs this communication. Parents should not forget about this. Parents should postpone their business, and give a kid a little bit of their attention.