By Josh Aguirre | Multimedia Journalist
Think back to when you were a kid. Remember those horrible weekdays, and the horrible thing we were forced to do during said weekdays: school. The only thing that would you through the endless torture of school was the thought of Saturday morning cartoons.
Saturday morning cartoons were the one thing I looked forward to. It was a way for me to see zany characters and places I thought were only possible within my imagination. The world of cartoons is a place where imagination is the limit. It is a place where anything can happen.
Cartoons have always been a part of my life. They helped shape me in several ways, whether it was an educational show like the “Berenstain Bears,” or just a show that was stupid for the sake of stupid, like “Spongebob Squarepants.” I learned something from each show, and I believe it was and still is the same for most kids.
What children see, especially in their earlier years of life, has an extreme impact on them. During what Kathy Sylva calls the “critical years of learning for a child” in her article, “Critical Periods in Childhood Learning,” children absorb information at an astounding rate. By utilizing cartoons and other forms of television, parents can help their children learn things like math, reading, or even, to a certain degree, social skills.
In a world where it is very common for both parents to work, there needs to be something there to help teach kids when parents can’t. I understand that there are cartoons that can be inappropriate for children, or counterproductive to their learning, but that’s where parents can intervene and regulate what their children see.
Several cartoons today are very educational. With Netflix providing a plethora of shows on demand, parents now have access to an endless supply of entertaining and educational programs for their children to watch. This allows for a healthier viewing experience for children and the peace of mind for parents that their children are being bettered by what they see.
I’m not saying that parents should leave their kids in front of a screen constantly. I know that kids also need exposure to the outdoors and interaction with other people. Television, however, can be a good addition to the learning that children receive as they grow. It allows them to have experiences that might be hard for a parent to provide and it is a constant stream of information for them to learn from.
Some might say shows such as “Dexter’s Laboratory,” “Spongebob Squarepants,” or even “Scooby-Doo” can have negative effects on children. I disagree. These shows provide entertainment and humor. Not only that, but they teach things like conflict resolution. Even though these shows are unrealistic and satirical in nature, they still provide an avenue for growth in children. That being said, I do agree that these types of shows should be saved for kids when they are a little older.
Cartoons not only entertain children, but also let kids live vicariously through fun characters, allowing them to experience things they might not ever experience outside of the show that they’re watching. Even after the show ends, these character on TV still impact kids. They become children’s role models. Kids follow these character examples and make decisions based off of them. Because of this, like everything else, parents must be discerning in the content that enters their children’s minds. That aside, cartoons are essential in the development of children into functioning adults. I mean, who doesn’t want to learn how to handle an argument from a talking sponge, or learn that eating vegetables is good from a superhero?