Many parents are adamant about keeping their kids away from the TV set, which is also referred to as an idiot box, for fear of them becoming couch potatoes. In fact, child experts claim that TV can fry kids’ brains and that they’re better off doing more engaging and productive activities like reading, jigsaw puzzles, arts and crafts, and playing outside. However, while this is all true, keeping kids away from the TV completely can prove to be a daunting, if not impossible, task. Parents are tired and need to distract their kids even for a while, as they go about doing chores or just plain resting.
There are several solutions in breaking up the battle between children and parents when it comes to TV time. One is to limit the number of hours the little ones spend in front of the tube; some say an hour a day is the maximum for children under 6. Secondly, to keep the TV experience from being passive, parents should watch the shows with their kids and take on a more participative role to what’s happening on the screen. That way, the child is interacting while watching and more importantly, learning some things from the parents.
Lastly, parents should closely screen the shows that the kids are watching. Just because it’s a cartoon and shows on a Kiddie TV channel doesn’t mean it portrays the right values to the kids. In fact, many of these cartoons are harmful to the child’s sponge-like brains due to violence or disobedience to elders and other such issues.
If you thought Spongebob and his gang’s utterly idiotic antics could knock a kid’s IQ down several notches, you’ll be surprised to know that it’s actually the mildest of the cartoons that can harm children.
Here’s a list of cartoons that can harm children in the two to six year old age range and should be avoided completely. The effects of these cartoons may not be as drastic to older, more discerning children, so it won’t be too bad if these older kids viewed the cartoons every so often. The list only covers cartoons that are specifically targeted to children and doesn’t include adult cartoons, like The Simpsons, Family Guy or Beavis and Butthead.
No one likes seeing a bratty little kid, whether it’s on TV or in real life, but there’s little Caillou. Caillou is a Canadian cartoon that depicts the misadventures of a little boy and his interactions with his baby sister. The kid is basically a sullen, tantrum-throwing brat who isn’t very nice to his baby sister initially, but eventually softens towards her at the end of the episodes. His stories are meant to teach kids to be nice to their siblings, but Caillou’s initial bratty behaviour can result in errant children and frustrated parents.
Many may object to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles being on this list, claiming they grew up watching it and turned out fine. However, the truth of the matter is, TMNT can send a lot of negative messages to children. Four green turtles fighting crime under the tutelage of a rat and living in the sewers makes for an unconventional cartoon setting. As they’re crime fighters, there’s a lot of violence in each episode, enticing children to imitate the rough antics of the turtles. When the turtles are done with their crime fighting sprees, they indulge in boxes and boxes of pizza. Though this resulted in a significant increase in pizza sales, it also promoted overeating and subsequently, obesity among children.
The list wouldn’t be complete without a Disney production. Wholesome as its cartoons are, the expert in children’s entertainment is not without its flaws in how it tells its stories. One example is Bambi, the little deer who loses his mother at a young age and grows up to be the king of the forest. Though the film has its light moments, especially the scenes with Thumper and Flower, the rest of it is laden with sadness. When Bambi’s mother is killed by hunters and he’s left an orphan, it can be traumatizing for kids, watching a little fawn lose his mother that way.
Many parents complained about Tom and Jerry, which depicts the classic cat-and-mouse rivalry, but in an immensely violent way. The premise of the cartoon is how Tom the cat would constantly goad Jerry the mouse and the result would always be Jerry winning over Tom with his wit and cunning abilities. However, the manner in which they would attack each other shows bashing of skulls, pounding on fingers with a hammer, and other such painful ways. The creators eventually toned the violence down after it was reported that kids would hurt one another as a result of copying what was in the cartoon.
Any TV show, whether it’s for adults or kids, that glorifies money as the answer to everything can’t be good. Such is the case for Richie Rich, a cartoon based on the comic book character of the same name. Though the cartoon teaches values like there are more important things to life than money, it’s no denying that money is still a big part of Richie’s life. If he’s sad, his daddy will just buy him stuff to comfort him. If he’s struggling with grades, daddy buys him a brand new library with books printed on old money. These practices conveyed extreme materialism to kids and adults alike.
In the same vein as Tom and Jerry, all Looney Tunes episodes are pretty violent. Sure, they’re just cartoon animals, but their antics can cause kids to imitate them. Case in point, the infamous feud between the coyote and the road runner. The road runner always, always outsmarts Wile E. Coyote, which results in the coyote always being badly hurt. He either falls off a cliff, gets his head clobbered by boulders, or experiences other injuries that, if it happened in real life, could actually kill you.
In the world of Pokemon, Pikachu initially takes a dislike to his trainer, Ash and goes so far as to attack the latter with his unique electric powers. The violent nature by which the Pokemon battle with each other to help their trainers become the best is vicious enough for a young child’s eyes. Although, what was worse than violence being embedded in the child’s mind was the fact that the electric charges emitted by Pikachu actually made the TV screens flash and blur which actually caused epileptic attacks among Japanese children.
Though there’s no real violence in Scooby Doo, Where Are You! it can also be considered a bad influence to kids but in a miscreant way. In their efforts to solve mysteries of the supernatural kind, the group of teenagers and Scooby would break into old, abandoned houses and buildings to track down and eliminate ghosts. It taught kids that it was okay to trespass and meddle around in private property, thereby causing kids to do it without thinking that there would be consequences to their actions.
Many Japanese animated films and shows are wrought with violence and Dragonball Z is no exception. Detailing the adventures of Goku and his son Gohan, the general message it conveys is that when some characters die, they come back to life stronger and thirsty for vengeance against their enemies. It showed kids the concept of revenge and inadvertently encouraged them to do dangerous things because they can come back to life anyway, stronger and better.
The Little Mermaid is deemed as the animated film that resuscitated the Golden Ages of Disney movie magic, after a series of flops. Though it was a massive success, it didn’t exactly convey the best of lessons to little girls, unintentional as this may have been. Rebellious mermaid Ariel constantly defies her father, yet she is still his favorite daughter. Despite his warnings not to go near humans, she deliberately disobeys him and what happens in the end? He gives in to her wishes and lets her marry, even if it’s against every fiber of his being. Though at the end of the day, we’re supposed to be free to make our own decisions, this doesn’t mean openly defying our parents, especially at such a young age. This definitely sends the wrong message to kids.