We start them young

Are cartoons good entertainment for children?

While seemingly unharmful, cartoons may apparently have its downside, especially when the adults don’t actually screen carefully the contents of what their children watch. The so-called presumption that a “cartoon” is just a figure of imagination may actually be portrayed differently by the young mind.

Not all cartoons are appropriate for age. There are those whose languages and behavior are left for adult viewing. (As a matter of fact, even pegged to be farcical sarcasm takes on politics or life in general, the adult-themed cartoons carry heavy parental guidance or for adults only restrictions.)

Bob’s Burger, Family Guy, The Simpson’s (and a lot more lately on Netflix) are examples of cartoons that are not suitable for young children.

As parents or caregivers, we need to screen what the kids are watching. Just because it’s a “kids” show and that it sells a lot of “kids toys” does not mean that the show is appropriate for a young audience. (I have a lot of “adult” friends who collect various paraphernalia from Funko Pop to Marvel heroes to Anime, as a collectors item). Even the harmless LEGO has become a “toy” for collection and interior design.

And not just because it’s rated aired in a family channel, the contents are appropriate for ALL children regardless of age group.

There’s a reason why the American Academy of Pediatrics has updated in the Fall of 2016 their recommendation of the use of digital media in children. It includes not only how much time, but why, how, when and where it is appreciate to use.

For children 2-5 years old, media should be limited to 1 hour a day and involve high quality programming or something the parents and child can view together.

Except for video chatting, those less than 1 1/2 years old, should avoid any form of digital media.

I get the fact that we all want a little “me time”. After all, it is a handful having to handle one (or a bunch of) rambunctious toddler who’s beginning to explore the world.

In this world where we need to juggle career and family, I applaud parents who take raising a family built on personal supervision as a priority. When you place some of your priorities in the backseat, and care for the overall welfare of your kids more, we start teaching them to discern right from wrong while they’re young.

The British cartoon Peppa Pig is a classic example of an ambiguous cartoon disguised as harmless. Let’s look at it from the angle of what message it sends to a young child.

There’s fat shaming. Yes Peppa repeatedly fat shames her daddy. And the father isn’t much of a role model because he allows Peppa to call him names. Really! Allowing your child to get away cursively at fat shaming you takes the cake at saying, “it’s alright”! And Peppa talks back a mouthful too. Just like the child actress Raissa in the local noontime show on Eat Bulaga, kids think that it’s okay to be “astig” and answer back “wittingly” with adults.

We need to remember that children absorb a show different from adults. While we may find it funny, our entertainment is their learning process. Their brains are like sponges. At that age, they absorb anything and everything. That’s why they try to get their way while they’re growing up. Who they are today, is because we let them.

Solid research demonstrates that in children more than 3 years old, high quality programs like Sesame Street, that teach new ideas are advisable.

Early childhood is a time of rapid brain development, and kids need to balance sleep, learning and playing, and emotional and relationship building. Too much time spent on digital media curtails these other learning processes.

The next time you think that it’s okay to just switch on a seemingly harmless show, I suggest you sit down and watch them with your child.

Discernment, after all, is a virtue.

After all, we shape and mold these young minds from the get go. What they become tomorrow, is how we raise them today.

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