According to anecdotal evidence, children who watch cartoons too much may imitate the personality traits of their favourite cartoon characters.
However, local and regionally produced cartoons can assist kids in learning wholesome principles important to our culture.
Sincere concerns about the impact of such programs on children’s minds have been raised by the appearance of LGBT characters in cartoons produced outside of Nigeria.
Do cartoons merely provide children with entertainment or do they also impart knowledge?
Recently, an Indian spiritual guru mentioned a youngster who was receiving speech therapy because she spoke like a cartoon character.
The girl’s peculiar speech pattern was attributed to the videos she watched on her parents’ cell phones.
“Parents, keep your young children away from phones,” the guru widely known as Shiva advises.
Many people who commented on the guru’s revelations said they had seen toddlers mimicking cartoon behaviour.
“A lot of parents don’t realise how harmful it is letting their children freely use smartphones, tablets or even TV,” one commenter writes.
“You buy some time for yourself but your offspring will pay dearly for the consequences of this.
“Some act like Mr Bean, while others speak like Nobita or Doremon.”
“Phone hours should last no more than one or one and a half hours, and within that time frame, you should decide what to watch.
“Help them. They require it,” another commentator pointed out.
Most people agree that young children pick up language cues and behaviour from cartoon characters because their parents do not spend enough time with them.
A child psychologist and a communication expert who have studied the effects of cartoons on children agree that parents and guardians do not adequately monitor how much foreign television their children are exposed to.
“Parents are increasingly working longer hours as they strive to keep the households running effectively, leaving the older siblings to take care of the younger children or leaving the children with a caretaker,” the psychologist observed.
According to additional research, most African parents do not watch television with their children.
The psychologist stated that mediated viewing, in which parents and children watch cartoons together, may reduce any negative effects on children’s social development.
“Mediation could be passive or active, with parents either setting up rules about television viewing or actively watching the television programmes with their children,” she says.
Household television rules could specify when the television is turned on, for how long, and what type of content is permitted.
When parents are present when their children watch television, they can interpret what they see in a way that teaches the child positive values.
The parent can model positive personality traits while discouraging negative behaviour such as violence.
Can cartoons teach children language? Psychologists agree that it is possible.
“The same way children imitate what they see on television cartoon programmes is the same way they pick up words they hear on the programmes and integrate them into their vocabulary,”
Furthermore, studies have shown that children as young as two years old can easily learn vocabulary from television shows.
Funke Adeniyi, a Nigerian teacher and mother of a toddler, acknowledges that cartoons can soothe babies, but she is concerned about the long-term effects.
“I use ‘Cocomelon’ and other cartoons when the child needs to be still. It works the majority of the time.
“However, as my child grows, I have realised that I do not particularly enjoy the hypnotic effects of the show,” she said in a statement.
Funke believes that instead of simply following popular trends, parents should be proactive in deciding what content their children watch.
She would rather her son watch interactive learning programs to help him practice his speech.
“It is, therefore, up to the parent to decide what type of programming they wish to expose their kids to,” she says.
Studies conducted in other parts of the world have shown that watching cartoons has an impact on children’s attitudes and behaviour, including their likes and dislikes, communication style, and interactions with other kids.
Additionally, it has a significant impact on how they speak, dress, and eat.
Children prefer items like toys, snacks, books, and even school bags that feature cartoon characters they like.
Cartoon characters are frequently depicted on products aimed at children for similar reasons.
Children who watch cartoons frequently exhibit television-related behaviours in the classroom, according to Pakistani teachers.
Education experts discovered that harmful influences could cause children to reject local cultural values, attitudes, and lifestyles in Egypt, where 80% of schoolchildren regularly watch cartoons.
On the other hand, using cartoons for education has a positive impact.
According to surveys conducted in Egypt, kids who watch educational television earn higher grades, read more books, value achievement more, and are more creative than kids who watch violent or purely “entertainment” television.
In some ways, high-quality cartoons can serve as the equivalent of a home school.
The educational value of cartoons for infants and toddlers is contested by the US National Library of Medicine.
The group advises against using videos to help develop very young children, according to its website.
Children under the age of two should not be exposed to electronic devices, according to NLM’s recommendations.
This applies to televisions, laptops, tablets, and cell phones.
Toddlers over the age of two should have no more than two hours of screen time per day.
Furthermore, it has been established that excessive exposure to electronic screens as a child grows up may result in eye problems such as short-sightedness.
Dr Njiiri, a child psychologist, believes that there is a general lack of awareness that cartoon programs can negatively influence children.
She suggests holding awareness campaigns so that parents and guardians are aware of both the positive and negative effects that cartoons have on children’s behaviour
When watching cartoons, children must be supervised.
“Through guided supervision, children can be advised on behaviours to shun, such as offensive language or violent acts,” Njiiri says.
When parents are away from home, they should have a trustworthy adult accompany their children while they watch cartoons.
Even when the parents are not at home, modern devices have parental controls that keep inappropriate cartoons out.
Another important consideration is the origin of the cartoons that African children watch.
Concerns about foreign cultural influences have led to calls for locally produced children’s programs that are relevant to the African way of life.
The African child requires African content to be created for them.
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