Why lovely cartoons are actually bad for your kid

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I spent 10 days with my family in São Paulo. esides the bonding with my loved ones, there were some very negative aspects of our immersion in the big city.

The most negative thing is the TV (protagonist thing in most living rooms). In my dad´s house, my 5-year old watched a lot of TV.

One day, my girl was watching TV and my dad and his girlfriend invited us to go to see Madagascar 3 (3D) at the mall. I felt stressed inside. First it was my bad memories of being in a mall on a Saturday night, but also it was a lot of screen watching already that day and now we were off to the movies (her first time) just before bedtime. It was sweet from my dad to take his granddaughter out anyway.

Before the movie started, there was a small clip for 3D effects show. Three characters in a white background were singing while another one was annoying the others. Finally, one of the singing characters punched the annoying one really hard on the head throwing it away. Part of the theater laughed at it. It was supposed to be funny, to see that violence display made for kids (things like this make me believe there´s an evil hidden agenda on what´s on for kids).

Madagascar 3 is improper for young kids. There should be a warning about it. It was too much persecution and too fast action and what shocked me the most was the guns showing up in the first 20 minutes. There were policemen (I can´t remember now if they had guns on them, but I guess so) and the bad guy on this movie is this policewoman that chases the animals with a tranquilizer in hand, but it´s a gun none the less and I don´t think my kid could fathom that it wasn´t a killing gun.

I was horrified at the whole thing, and luckily, my daughter felt scared of the evil character and couldn´t watch any longer (30 minutes was nightmare inspiring enough).

If you let your kid watch TV, you might know that Sponge Bob is improper for preschool-age children. A study on fast paced cartoons done last year  designed to assess what is known as children’s executive function, which underlies attention, working memory, problem-solving and the delay of gratification showed that “the children who watched the cartoon were operating at half the capacity compared to other children,” (this is an invitation to what will be labeled later as ADHD).

I know this, my kid goes through weeks without a single video and still I let her watch it. Once you have the TV on and you are minding your own business, you are not there censuring all the shit that Discovery Kids (my daughter´s favorite) or Cartoon Network or whatever channel has to offer. And even if you avoid Sponge Bob, the same problem happens with other fast-paced cartoons.

Plus there is the advertisement of all kind of silly and useless toys (especially the electronic ones that can play alone). Only after watching the movie, I noticed that McDonalds advertises it´s happy meal with the Madagascar characters as gifts. My girl has never been to McDonalds (yet).

I also learned recently, through friends, that Scooby Doo makes little ones have nightmares and fears at night for weeks, some families start co-sleeping after Scooby Doo was watched a few times.

It´s hard for little kids to process what´s watched on the screen and this triggers a lot of acting out. Many will be punished for their misbehavior.

After leaving the movie theater, we went for food in the mall. My daughter was feeling very upset about the movie experience, and after 5 minutes out of it she wanted to go back there, so then she was frustrated because I wouldn´t take her back in there. There was also the overstimulation a mall can give (too many bright colors, too much noise, too many people and no fresh air), and she was very clingy and annoying.

I could understand the source of that behavior, but my dad was labeling her ¨spoilled¨ for wanting to be held.

I had to deal with her going wild on me for the next one hour and a half. It was freaking hard to not lose my cool, in our room, while in the living room my dad and his girlfriend watched some more TV.

This article was originally posted on Tripping Mom by Marilia Di Cesare on June 28, 2012. Republished with authorization. Click here for all other posts.


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