As kids most of us grew up, watching cartoons like He-man, Spiderman and Jungle book and I recollect how thrilled and excited we got at the idea of watching these cartoons. We wouldn’t want to miss a single episode. Unlike the kids of today who have so many options to choose from, we were contented watching cartoons on Doordarshan. We thoroughly enjoyed what we were exposed to on television and savoured the fun.
Times have changed and there are numerous cartoon channels that are available at the touch of a button. The kids have so much more to see now. However, it gets painful when our little viewers, get addicted to shows that are continuously prone to showing cartoon violence. Most kids, especially boys seem to love all the action. It becomes painful though when they get addicted.
Going by my personal experience, I’ve seen a change in my son’s behaviour after he began watching cartoons that displayed cartoon violence. He became more aggressive, stubborn and hyperactive. Initially I didn’t know what the reason was, but soon I figured the cause. It was the effect of the cartoons and he was beginning to identify with the characters in the cartoons. He began to idolize them. This is natural and this happens to every normal kid.
I have to be honest here that sometimes we as parents encourage kids to watch television to make our own jobs easy, and there is nothing wrong with watching Televison provided we are selective about the cartoons, our kids watch. A certain amount of television is healthy as it educates our child on different subjects, like wildlife, animals, environment and so on.
The trouble begins when we do not put breaks, on the number of hours of viewing these shows. They become addicted and then there is no turning back. One way of breaking this habbit is by encouraging them to indulge in other healthy activities like colouring, art and craft, painting and so on.
After dealing with his hyperactivity, I decided to cut down on the number of hours he watched television. I did this gradually. I’ve also become picky about the shows he watches now. The cartoon shows that contain high cartoon violence have been cut out. Now, he views cartoons that have a lesser degree of violence.
He finds educational shows interesting because they tap his creative and thinking skills. Mister Maker on Discovery Kids and MAD on POGO are some of them. By making this small change, I’ve seen an enormous difference in his behaviour. Not that he’s not naughty anymore, but his hyperactiveness has lessened to a great degree and this suits me.
What are the effects of watching cartoons for too long? Let’s have a quick peek. Kids who watch excess television are not very active and hence tend to put on excess weight at an early age risking their health. Apparently their cognitive functions slow down and watching continuous television strains their eye causing internal damage. Most importantly their emotional health is affected enormously.
Children who are exposed to too much of violence become aggressive and violent in their behaviour. They soon start identifying with the cartoon characters and assume that they need to act like their cartoon heroes. If the episodes project too much of fighting and violence then it doesn’t send a good moral message to our little spectators. They would assume that it’s right for them to behave like their cartoon heroes. At such a tender age, they would not know that there is a lot of difference between fiction and reality.
So, what cartoons shows do we need our little kids to watch? The ones that are educational and convey a moral lesson at the end. The ones that tap the creativity skills in a child. A child can learn a lot from educational shows. This would make them intellectually smarter.
Kids are curious and inquisitive by nature so channels that explore wildlife and nature like animal planet and national geographic channel can be of great interest to them. Children are happier, if they have company while watching a particular show, because they enjoy company and also the fact that someone is always there to answer their questions as and when they are watching the show.
Thus, there’s no harm in watching television as long as we get hold of certain steps, like what has been highlighted above. These tiny tots would then develop healthy minds and a healthy mind means a healthy future.
I’m Diana Pinto mother of a three-year-old son. I’m a housewife and a blogger. My interests include listening to music, dancing and now of course writing. I’ve developed an interest in writing recently and hope to inspire people and bring a change through it. I blog at Diana’s musings.