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Cartoons and its Effect on Children - Essay Example

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From the time the television became a permanent fixture in the modern home, animated shows for children have become a staple of station programming…
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Cartoons and its Effect on Children
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Download file to see previous pages Since the seventies, there had been numerous studies to determine the effect of television on children. This brief essay discusses the effects of cartoons on children since the 1990s. Essentially, the cartoons that gained popularity in the 1990s deviated from the traditional. Together with the conventional kids’ cartoons such as Tiny Toons, Animaniacs, and the still popular Spongebob Squarepants, the nineties ushered such satirical animated programmes as the Simpsons, King of the Hill, Space Ghost Coast-to-Coast, and the highly irreverend Beavis and Butt-head and South Park. Clearly, the latter group contained more of adult content and are not meant for children, but lack of parental vigilance (and the misleading format of the shows) has enabled many children to watch them with regularity. More recently, the cartoons that had become popular were those that departed from humor. The term “cartoons” traditionally implies comedy and humor; however, cartoons portray violence in a comedic context, such as those elements in Samurai Jack, X-Men Evolution, and Batman: The Animated Series, which portray “dark” situations. At times, violence is portrayed without the comedy and make use of characters who look realistic (as against the fantastic), a form of cartoons R.B. Haynes (1978) calls “authentic” because of its closeness to reality. Effects of cartoons on children Because of its implications on children’s future behaviour, violence became a major interest in the study of the effects animated programs. In the 1990s, cartoons portrayed violence in the form of minor acts; for instance, rarely is death depicted, and never is rape portrayed. Cartoons also “sanitized” the outcomes of violence, by symbolically depicting or merely implying pain or suffering without tangibly showing it. (Potter & Warren, 1998 in Kirsh, 2006, p. 161). The principal concern of researchers is that comedy in cartoons may potentially trivialize or camouflage the underlying violence in cartoons (Kirsh, 2006). However, it is possible for children’s reactions to the same cartoons, or any stimuli for that matter, to be different, depending upon their interests and personality (Smith, Cowie & Blades, 2003). It was suggested that cartoons may be harmful particularly for little children, because the have difficulty distinguishing reality from fantasy (Peters & Blumberg, 2002). The present computer generated, 3D animated shows are particularly convincing because, where the character design significantly departs from the fantastic and imitates reality, the audience (particularly very young children) are drawn to the center of the story, and for the duration of the presentation there is a suspension of disbelief. As mentioned, cartoon violence has been the topic of much research, with the notion that children tend to imitate the violence they witness in cartoons. Some investigations, however, tended to suggest that in the case of preschoolers, the effects are not as severe as had been speculated. Very young children have very limited comprehension of the content of television programs, but their moral reasoning is at a rather developed stage – described as “sophisticated” (Peters & Blumberg, 2002:143). Another adverse effect of animation is the extraordinarily close affinity of children with certain psychiatric disorders to televised cartoon shows. Particularly significant is the effect of animation on children clinically diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In a study of 24 boys eight-to-twelve years of age, it was determined that 59 percent of the group preferred cartoons, significantly one-third more than the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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