Cartoons and Kids: How Much Harm Do They Cause?

“Peppa Pig,” the animated Nick Jr. show is the latest cartoon to be villainized by parents. According to an article in the Daily Mail, complaints are being brought up about how the show influences children to splash in mud puddles and turn down vegetables. I am not going to say cartoons do not influence children at all, but there is a forgotten piece of the puzzle here. Parents can simply turn the TV off.

The other minor point that these Peppa Pig detractors are missing is that the behavior they are complaining about, getting messy and choosing chocolate cake over cucumbers, is fairly normal preschool behavior. Blaming it all on a mischievous pig is simply convenient. All my children have splashed in puddles and would often prefer sweets, yet Peppa Pig was not on the air back when they were preschoolers.

Peppa Pig is not the first cartoon character to be blamed for bad behavior though. Rugrats, SpongeBob SquarePants and the Telly Tubbies have had their share of finger pointing.

Over the years, SpongeBob has been blamed for everything from promoting homosexuality to hindering the attention span of preschoolers. Tinky Winky was called a homosexual role model for young children and even Sesame Street was caught in the crosshairs for an episode that never made it to the television. A segment starring Katy Perry and Elmo was previewed on YouTube. Parents complained about Perry’s outfit and the episode was tossed.

My mother had the right idea. She did not like some of the themes or behavior of the characters on RugRats, so my younger sisters were not allowed to watch the show. It really can be that simple. There are plenty of alternatives available. Turning off the TV will allow kids the opportunity to play and discover. What parents may discover is that even without a cartoon partner in crime, children misbehave.

While I grew up with Tom and Jerry, Wile E. Coyote and Bugs Bunny, I did not drop anvils on my siblings or pull out giant sledgehammers. This may have been due to the fact that cartoons were saved for Saturday mornings. I didn’t sit glued to the set day after day.

If you believe Peppa Pig or another animated character is having a bad influence on your child, your first line of defense is the off button. Remember, there will be plenty of issues to deal with as your child grows. Cutting out bad influences at this stage in the game is much easier than when they are teens.

More by Sylvie Branch:
5 reasons for cutting back on TV, from a 10 year old
Talking with toddlers: Deciphering tips
Tips for changing a Negative Nelly’s perspective

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