Television has been around for many decades now.
It is considered the most powerful optical medium because it reaches a wide range of audience. Since it is very affordable and easy to operate, it is unlikely for a household not to own at least one television set. However, the large amount of time spend by man in front of this box takes its tool. As time passes by, programs shown are becoming violent and oppressive. Studies found out that violence and aggressive themes are present not only in wrestling, war movies and other live-action programs but also in cartoons. The study conducted by the National Television Violence Study (NTVS) in 1996 showed that 66% of children’s programs displayed violence and 46 % of this violence was found in cartoons. Another study, conducted by Harvard University in 1984, reported that animated films contained more violence than live-actions movies. Taking all these into consideration, children appear to be the most potential customers of these programs because a typical child spends an estimated 30 hours of television viewing weekly.
Most children grow up watching cartoons but, unfortunately, even these programs intended to amuse are gradually scratching off the good values from the young minds. In his statement ran by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in 1998, Dr. Donald Shifrin said that many harmful contextual features seen by the younger viewers were found mostly in cartoons. He added that an exposure to 10,000 violent incidents a year would happen to a child who watched two hours of cartoons daily. Most cartoons nowadays are full of violence and bad language. The slapstick Tom and Jerry cartoon, which became a household name, appears to contain violence too.
Its usual scene is the chase-and-catch between the cat and the mouse with reckless abandon, creating wreck and destruction on their paths. When Tom catches Jerry, he either ties the mouse in a ceiling fan or attempts to put it inside his mouth. Most of the time, however, Tom gets the perilous and unfortunate parts like swallowing a bomb, burned into ashes, glued to a flying rocket, swiped by a toy plane, flattened with a mallet or mauled by a huge bulldog.The actions and stunts from this innocent cartoon, and from other cartoons shown in television as well, may become a “model” for an older child when his urge to play with his younger sibling arises. As shown in the 1996 study by NTVS, 66% of the children’s programming contained violence, 75% of which was unpunished violence, and 58% of the victims due to this violence did not report experiencing pain. Children, particularly the younger ones, do not have well-developed ability to distinguish reality from fantasy so it is hard for them to realize the danger or harm if they act out or imitate the actions they see in cartoons. Foul language used on cartoon films is another concern by parents. Words like stupid, dimwit, numbskull, imbecile, loser and peabrain uttered by their favourite cartoon characters, more often than not, make young televiewers to call each other names and, to some extent, disrespect authority.
Use of foul language usually causes verbal argument and fistfight among the children.Whether we like it or not, most cartoons nowadays are laced with fight scenes and bad language. The children are the most susceptible target of these because they spend much of their time in front of television every day. The developing mind of a young child is like a sponge, absorbing everything.
The tendency is that he imitates what he sees and hears from the screen which may hurt others or himself. Violence, among others, is rampant in children’s animation films that the government has a difficulty containing it. It may take some time for the lawmakers to solve this problem. However, parents can do something about this by guiding their kids in watching television. They should regulate their children’s viewing time and choose only the appropriate programs to watch. So, next time Bug Bunny says “What’s up, Doc?”, they should examine deeply what really lies behind the cute grin of the cunning two-toothed rabbit.