Nearly every child grows up facing the front of their television screen watching the world’s favorite animated shows. Cartoons are without doubt the most entertaining aspect of childhood. They have an increasing influence on children’s lives so much so that their conversations are dotted with incomprehensible jargon from the cartoons they watch. Also their daily schedules are based around what cartoon is on and their gestures are inspired by the most happening cartoon character.
Cartoons can be broadly categorized as either pure entertainment or educational. For example Pink Panther, Woody Wood Pecker, Top Cat and Sesame Street score excellently as entertainment while Dora the Explorer helps with empowering toddlers and engender non- discriminatory behavior when upon coming in contact with someone who is different from themselves, do not differentiate from them but actually think of what those differences can positively teach them. On the downside, it is surprising to know that now it is actually the mildest of the cartoons that can harm children’s growth process.
Joab Mudzanapabwe, a clinical psychologist says that cartoons are basically designed age specific as characters are like kids or they are sort of animated and thus it is easier for children to relate. Mudzanapabwe says that cartoons have peer influence and that is why kids are able to relate to them very easily.
“Children learn through modeling and as they see the cartoons, they model the behaviour. So if the behaviour that is being exhibited is positive then they will be positive but similarly if the behaviour that is being potrayed is not good then the children will imitate the same behaviour.”
Mudzanapabwe advises parents to always keep in mind that children’s brains are quite suggestible. They are not able to screen a lot of things like to say this is good for me this is not; they are likely to receive whatever comes to their sight. Their minds are also not strong enough to be able to screen the good and the bad. Therefore, because of the suggestibility they take in anything especially the fact that cartoons are presented repeatedly it is quite easy for them to internalize them due to repetition.
Some cartoons are quite scary and sometimes some children may develop problems such as night mares especially if the cartoons have scenes that are violent or intimidating. If the cartoons are violent, children can imitate that and they become violent. “There have also been cases where some kids have tried some funny actions and they ended up injuring others,” he said.
Diana Mwikisa a first born of four siblings says that their father never allowed them to watch any sort of cartoons. “My father made a rule in the house that we do not watch any cartoons where there is any insinuation of witch craft, where there are any funny super powers going on with dragons. For example the Pokémon; he doesn’t allow that in the house. He would rather allow things like Tom and Jerry which are very light.”
“When my other sister was growing up we watched cartoons that had more meaning for instance the Powerpuff Girls because they had things like speed but they didn’t really have superpowers, we also watched a lot of Christian cartoons.”
“I have also noticed that cartoon shows such as The Simpsons are more targeted to adults but you find a lot of kids are curious to watch it. The Simpsons have adult jokes, adult content and vulgar language which is not appropriate for the house and that’s one of the cartoons that my father banned completely in our house,” says Diana.
Here are few of the shows which are deemed inappropriate for kids. The fact that older people
are starting to also like cartoons suggests that today’s cartoons have content that the elderly can also
relate to. So which do we keep away from the children?
Almost Naked Animals
If the name is not a clear indicator that it is one of the inappropriate kid shows out there, then we don’t know what is. The show’s writing is smart enough that adults will get some laughs right alongside their kids’. Nevertheless, the show has some underlying meanings that don’t quite suit its audience. It is set in a tropical resort called the Banana Cabana and here’s the interesting part, it features funny animals that have all shaved their fur off and in turn are seen sporting underwear. The theme song features a word that actually sounds like ‘penis’, it’s quite easy for kids to pick up on things like this. ‘Penis’ is not necessarily a ‘bad word’, but for a show that has been the most watched after school children’s program among kids aged 4 to 9, one should feel a tad bit uncomfortable.
Courage The Cowardly Dog
Before you bring out the stake and torches, take a moment to ponder on the show. As awesome as this show was, it has really earned its spot on the list of inappropriate kid shows. A series of really creepy events went down on that farm and it could really affect the psyche of a child. You might as well spoon feed your kids Dracula movies or those weird horror movies that just leave you wondering. Some of the things that went down on that farm are still highly likely to give a full grown man the creeps, talk less of the audience it was actually created for.
At face value, it looks pretty stable, as it shows us the wonders of the post-apocalyptic land of Ooo. The show features a boy, Finn, and his adoptive brother/pet dog, Jake, who has the cool ability to change form. Here’s where it all starts to get weird, there’s demon killing, an actual portrayal of Satan and even an episode that features split personalities and psycho behavior. Yes, if this is one television for kids to watch, you might as well hand them the spoons to scoop out their brains already.
This show definitely had it coming; hopefully, there is not an adult out there that does not agree that it is not suitable for such young audiences. For adults, it’s actually quite entertaining and funny, in fact most adults enjoy watching it, kids may enjoy it too, but it is obviously not the same thing. It is not so scary as much as it is sexually inappropriate and borderline vulgar. There are actual episodes with some light cussing and also some kissing and petting. There is also an unspeakable amount of violence that might in turn have adverse effects on a growing child.
SpongeBob Square Pants
This show, though actually quite enjoyable, has quite the number of undertones that qualify it as grossly unsuitable for its audience. SpongeBob seems like a perfectly polite and quirky character, who tries to spread joy wherever he goes. Well for starters, there are some dirty jokes that get lost in translation… for the good kids; then there is the fact that some age-inappropriate stuff goes down. Remember when SpongeBob got busted for watching sea porn?
Mudzanapabwe deems it important for parents not to assume that all cartoons are good enough for their children. “Parents should also make an effort and screen which cartoon programmes are good. It is always important because what might be good where those shows are being produced may not necessarily be good elsewhere. So it is imperative for parents to sometimes just sit with their kids and watch. You will discover that there are certain things that you may not even want the kid to see and then you block those channels,” he says.
Parents should let their kids be kids, and ensure that they watch age appropriate shows. They can watch all the other shows when their minds are ready, but when they are really young it is vital that they steer clear of these shows.