Cartoons: How best to manage impact on children

As technology drives virtually every aspect of human endeavor, especially in people’s lives and their business, the children are not left out. Psychologists believe that the introduction of cartoons into our mainstream media has taken over the child’s early stage of socialization. However, many scholars and parents have divergent views on the real impact of cartoons on children in this era where parents have little or no time to devote to the training of their children and wards.

By Anthony Isibor.


A child is born with a mind capable of absorbing anything he or she hears or sees. Good or bad behaviors are not usually genetically acquired, they are learned. Social behaviors are the summation of all the influences from characters available to children while they grow up. These behaviors are learned by watching and listening to others.

A study conducted by Steve Hossler, a Psychologist at the Bowling Green State University, states that a child watches approximately 18000 hours of television from kindergarten to high school graduation. The case is not different for Nigerian children. Children are more interested in their TV cartoon characters more than they are interested in their parents.

A Cartoon is a motion picture, mainly a humorous film intended for children, made by using animations instead of life actors. These films are scripted to appeal to children and they keep glued to the television screen for hours without end.

At the early stage, when cartoon movies were introduced in the late 1800s, it was shot strictly in movie theatres. With time, however, cartoonists were able to put their shows on films and even created special TV stations for them. The cartoon network, Nickelodeon, and Disney channels are some examples of these channels today.

Movie cartoons, which were initially created to be family-friendly, had been transformed and infused with every sort of violent and negatively influential scenes.

For so many parents, having their children glued to the television removes them from their busy path and allows them to do more house chores, while to others, it has become an intolerable habit.

For Ajayi Shemilogho, a mother of two children, ‘’I can let my children watch as many cartoons as they wish as long as it gives me all the time I need for myself.’’

She also believes that cartoons are harmless and since she has to decide which cartoons they watch, she has nothing to fear. This may seem harmless, but a lot of these seemingly benign cartoons are filled with violent scenes, expressing anger and fighting, hatred, and animosities.

Some experts are now raising concerns on the impact of cartoons on the development of the child’s social behavior, especially at the early stages of 6-12 years. According to the researches, this period is deemed to be very critical.

Olusola Samuel Oyero and Kehinde Opeyemi Oyesomi believe that at this stage of the child’s growth, ‘’they develop the attention span and the cognitive ability to follow continuous plots and recognized motivation and consequences to character actions.’’ They warn that parents must be more involved in their children’s activities at this stage as exposure to media violence has a great influence on a child’s subsequent aggressive behavior, ideas, and anger

Parents are therefore advised to monitor what their children watch to ensure that it is strictly educational in content.

Some parents are, however, not as bothered about the psychological influence of TV cartoons on their children, as long as they are not disturbed by the children.

‘’I feel like I am not needed, once they are glued to the TV set watching one of these cartoons, they won’t even remember to eat,’’ Victoria Nnachi said.

For Emeka Onwegbu, children can be guided to become whatever their parents want them to be.  ‘’We have TV time in my home and I decide what my children will watch. Every good deed is rewarded and bad deeds are punished,’’ he said.

While technology cannot be entirely erased from the learning process of a child, it is necessary that parents monitor strictly the kind of cartoons that their children watch. There is also the need to allow the children to get to a certain acceptable age before they are allowed to watch cartoons.

A child’s mind is a mop capable of taking in everything it comes across.

First published – Feb 19, 2021 @ 05:47 GMT