Negative Impacts of Adult Cartoon Television Programs on Children

Subject: Entertainment & Media
Pages: 8
Words: 2007
Reading time:
8 min
Study level: College

Most individuals perceive cartoons as mighty creatures with great powers, a fact that makes most people disregard the negative impacts most adult cartoon programs can have on children, because of the nature of content in most of such programs. Watching cartoon programs has become a primary interest of many young children of age three to five, as most of them would have started watching such programs when they were half a year old hence, making them passionate cartoon viewers by age three. Because of the nature of content in most adult cartoon programs, most adult cartoon programs are likely to affect most children’s behavioral patterns, increase child insecurity, and expose children to subliminal messages that have unsuitable content for their ages (McCall, pp. 111-114).

Most research studies are aimed at understanding the effects of television programs on children’s behavioral patterns, for example, violence uses preschoolers it being one of the most vulnerable groups in society. For example, according to Priscilla Miranda’s play “Will adult disapproval of cartoon violence programs lower children’s aggressive behaviors,there exist relatively strong effects of televised violence on children of this age group, a case common in most adult cartoon programs (Miranda, Malqued, McCluskey, Silber, and Bainum, pp. 1-3). Presently, most televised adult cartoon programs contain many instances of violence, sexual harassment, and concealed messages, messages that are the primary “corruptors” of most children’s behaviors. Because most children of this age group do not know how to different programs that suit their age and programs meant for adults, most of them will watch any cartoon program that pleases them, with little consideration on the effects of such programs on their behavior. These like cases are common in homes where parents or guardians have little command over what their children watch. In addition, most marketing strategies adopted by cartoon media companies in the United States are overwhelmingly rich in subliminal messages, a mechanism adopted to entice young children, making them yearn for more televised cartoon programs. Such a case is prevalent in South Park, a cartoon program that has worn most American children’s hearts. Therefore, considering the enticing nature of most cartoon advertisements and because most young children cannot differentiate materials meant for them and materials meant for adults, most of them end up watching materials that affect their behaviors negatively.

Because most children absorb images and imitate what they see, such imitated images affect very much their behavior, because they will always want to practice what they see in most programs. It is important to note that, most children of this age group are undergoing changes associated with the preoperational stage of development. This is a psychological reality proved by Piaget’s research studies on developmental stages undergone by children’s cognitive abilities. One important factor that characterizes this stage is language development as children endeavor to better their communication abilities. In addition, according to Piaget’s research findings on children of these ages, understanding concrete logic is one primary problem most children in this age group face. Such problems make them lack the power necessary for critical analysis of their mental information that is crucial in the decision-making process, considering the fact that most individuals like to express their egocentric views. On the other hand, during the preoperational stage, children’s proficiency in using symbols is improving, a fact evidenced by the improvement of children’s manipulative abilities during play (Preisser, p.1). Therefore, considering the preschooler’s mental abilities most of them have a tendency of engaging in most physical activities they see in television cartoon programs, whose outcomes are dangerous in most uncontrolled situations.

Most adult cartoon programs, for example, South Park are rich in hostility and sexual content. In addition to such content, South Park has many instances of offhand pop-cultural references and ironic representation of celebrities; hence, its effects on children’s behavioral patterns, for example, development of suicidal tendencies. Such a case was evident in a suicide note left behind by a twelve-year-old from Oceania, on how South Park influenced his decision of ending his life (Taylor, p.1). This was and is a great proof of the nature of influences adult cartoon programs have on young children; because the note had numerous hand-drawn animated shapes of people fighting. Therefore, it is not wrong for one to argue that most children lack the ability to differentiate reality and fiction, a fact that is common in most war-fiction cartoon programs. It is important to note that, most preschoolers are undergoing a mind and body developing process hence, lack appropriate methodologies of controlling their actions; hence, in most cases, they will tend to mimic what they see cartoons do to other cartoons. For example, consider a case in South Park where children are falsifying abuse, such a case can make children deceive or blame others. Hence, compounding this and other content in most animated cartoon programs, the likelihoods of most children’s aggressiveness increasing are high, because of the nature of influence such programs have on children with emotional, impulse, or character management problems.

It is very hard to divert preschoolers from watching most violence-based adult cartoon programs, because most of them are rich informal characteristics, for example, loud music, rapid environmental changes, pleasing movements; features that are very appealing to most preschoolers. In addition, most media houses convey the most violent content visually hence, making it easy for preschoolers to emulate. To most young children, watching and practicing such violent actions is very enjoyable, because of their motivating nature. For example, consider this scene “saving dolls” from South Park. In order to salvage the doll from anguish in Fosse’s house, the cartoons use bullets and kicks hence, characterizing the scene with disobedience, as the four boys disobey the FBI’s orders by using the back door to salvage the doll. Chances of this like a scene reducing child safety are high, because children in this scene disobeyed law enforcers’ orders hence, engaged themselves in very risky actions that triggered extreme aggression, a case that most children will emulate. Apart from the use of violence, the attempt by the children to kidnap the doll by using gun sounds can be very tempting to many preschoolers, because many preschoolers do not understand the repercussions of such actions. In addition to shooting and disobedience, South Park illustrates extreme risky behaviors for preschoolers. For example, like Kyle, a character from South Park ran across the street a car hits him, but he still gets up and walks away. To children, this is real, something that most preschoolers will want to try without knowing they are endangering their lives.

As Jarosz (p.1) argues in her article “The Influence of Violence in Television upon Children”, most cartoon programs have false representation of reality to many young children hence, unless parents intervene by guiding children accordingly, such programs may alter children’s behavioral patterns. Further, Jarosz adds that, because of children’s tender ages, most of these false representations affect children’s behaviors greatly, because most of them encourage them to do actions copied from actors, children perceive as superheroes. On the other hand, according to research studies, most children below six years spend approximately four hours daily watching television programs hence, showing how much children can learn from televised programs (McCall, pp.101-116). Therefore, considering the false reality of most televised programs, there has been a rise in cases of children injuring themselves by about thirty-four percent, because of children attempting to put into practice what they had copied from televised programs (Alksnis, p.). The majority of young children engage in activities such as fights, because of the belief that to be a hero one has to defeat their opponent, something that is common in most televised adult cartoon programs. It is important to note that, although in most cases most children direct their violence on their siblings, sometimes these children may decide to attack other dangerous children, a practice that greatly jeopardizes their safety. Primary vicious characters in children that may reduce their security include heightened emotionality, anger attacks on other children and animals, destroying of material goods, and physical hostility.

On the other hand, the sexual and violent content of most televised adult cartoon programs, for example, South Park, which in most cases is in form of subliminal messages remains in children’s memories for a very long time. Therefore, although some children may not practice what they see in such programs immediately, at one time in their lives they are likely to engage themselves in such actions. This case occurs because most marketers use the Subliminal messaging technique to add flashes of information in videos or advertisements. Recognition of such messages is the primary function of the subconscious mind, hence, the long-lasting memory impact of such messages on children (Knauer, p.1). South Park is one of those televised adult cartoon programs that use this technique because it primarily uses four preadolescent boys. All throughout the program, the show gives little attention to women, a fact evidenced by the show portraying only two women to be normal’ the boys’ mothers and teacher. Therefore, most episodes in the show clearly show the nature of position accorded women in society, as the show portrays women performing old-traditional roles

Gender segregations are evident in the 13th season “The Ring,” as the Jonas brothers endeavor to convince Kenny and his girlfriend why they should put on purity rings. This is one of the primary marketing approaches used by The Walt Disney Company as a mechanism of encouraging sex among young females (Thier, p.1). Gender segregation in this show is also evident in the 13th season as Eric Cartman tells Maury that, his systems have lacked control hence, he is a drug addict, engaging in unprotected sex and murder, and he has stopped schooling, which should not be Maury’s business because she is a bitch (South Park Quotes, P.1). Considering this and other scenes from other television programs, most of these programs fill children’s minds with sexual images, words, and actions, resulting to changes in children’s attitudes. On the other hand, Most of the messages in these programs continually fill children’s minds with less useful ideas, whose negative effects are enormous as children develop.

In addition to subliminal messages, most televised programs use physical appearances to classify characters as good, bad, scary, or evil characters by using features such as segmented and colored bodies. Most of these features influence children’s characters whereby, some effects are very “mind corrupting. Such negative impacts made the federal government outlaw the airing of South Park’s episode, “Mohamed,” because the directors replaced Muhammad’s bear attires with those of Santa Claus (Topping, p.1). Because of this, preschools may tend to remember Mohammed’s figure in a bear outfit because the media fed them with wrong information about other cultures. This like an episode proves that some adult cartoon programs may be negative stereotyping objects, more so to certain minority immigrant groups, present in the U.S. Some cartoon programs have worsened the situation by depicting actors with foreign intonations as enemies of America.

In conclusion, the watching of television cartoon programs meant for adult audiences by children is likely to influence their behavioral patterns, decrease their security, and expose them to visual subliminal messages. It is important to note that, most children, especially preschoolers use television with an exploration approach. Although, it is not wrong for one to argue that, cartoon violence is not the sole causer of hostility in children, and that the degree of influence of such programs on different children is not uniform, most adult cartoon programs are primary promoters of such hostile behaviors.

To reduce these influences, parents should limit their children from watching too many adult cartoons, by paying more attention to the programs their children are watching and guiding them accordingly in violent scenarios. In cases where the context is overwhelming, parents should change the channel or turn off the television, as a mechanism of ensuring that children do not watch any offensive material. To avoid conflict with their children, parents must give convincing explanations to children why they are limiting programs they should watch.

Works Cited

Alksnis, Christine, and Jo-Anne, Taylor. Children and Television Violence – Abelard.” Abelard Public Education, 2010. Web.

Jarosz, Nicole. The Influence of Violence in Television upon Children. University at Buffalo – Wings Central Campus. 2010. Web.

Knauer, Dave. Introduction to Mass Media Studies, One-Half Unit. University Of Missouri. 2010. Web.

McCall, Jeffrey. Viewer Discretion Advised: Taking Control of Mass Media Influences. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007. Print.

Miranda, Priscilla, Malqued, Bernadette, McCluskey, Nicholas, Silber, Benjamin, and Bainum, Charlene. Will adult disapproval of cartoon violence lower children’s aggressive Play? 2010. Web.

Preisser, Wolfang. Cognitive Development in Early Childhood. Mesa Community College, the Resource for Your Continuing Education. 2010. Web.

South Park Quotes. South Park Sayings Quotations: Famous Quotes, Famous Quotations & Sayings, Great Quotes. 2010. Web.

Taylor, Gary. Articles about Suicide Note – South Park. The Orlando Sentinel, 1998. Web.

Thier, David. Mickey Mouse Leading Disney’s Effort to Break Into Video Gaming. AOL News, 2010. Web.

Topping, Alexandria. South Park Muhammad Episode Censored. The Guardian, 2010. Web.