Animation and Behavior

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Children's Animation and "Bad Behavior"

A recent social media meme reads, "I heard a woman say she won’t let her kids watch Peppa Pig because it encourages bad behavior like jumping in puddles. I saw Road Runner and haven’t blown up anyone yet."

Laughs aside, and whether the account is true or not, this does bring up how concerned adults have become about children’s behavior, where that concern is coming from, and when that concern is or isn’t justified. For instance, there are parents who sincerely believe Peppa Pig is a bad influence. Others have excoriated every series from Caillou (whiny, bratty behavior) to Fancy Nancy (melodrama) to Sofia the First, Elena of Avalor, and The Lion Guard (too much emphasis on royalty, princess mentality).

Is children’s animation actually encouraging bad behavior, or do adult audiences focus too much on instances of normal childlike actions? Do any of today’s animated shows have good messages, about behavior or anything else, and what are they? Which animations are the best and worst when it comes to presenting characters and behavior kids should emulate? Discuss.

  • This is an interesting topic for discussion. In my experience, it's not so much the television shows themselves that are the problem, as that parents aren't doing the nurturing and moralizing that they used to. If parents aren't there to provide their kids with a value system, the kids turn to media, including television, to make sense of the world. Ultimately this creates a feedback loop, where the TV programs pander to what they think the children will like in order to make money, and therefore cut them off from their parents' values even more. – Debs 1 year ago
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  • In absence of a role model, with absent parental figures, children look at the next best things and absorb "the babysitter." Jim Carrey's character in the titular Cable Guy seems less fiction and more reality with all the avenues the younger generations are inundated with messages and values. What is worse than clashing with the values of a family, is the lack of any role model at all and adopting whatever flips up on a screen. I grew up watching everything from Loony Toons, Saturday morning cartoons, Toonami, animé, etc., but my parents were there to decompile the content instead of letting it ferment in my spongy prepubescent brain. I have a feeling that there is a similar vein here as in the "videogames make people violent" where accountability is placed on environment and OTHER people, never the individual's personal agency in internalizing and later acting on values. – DancingKomodos 1 year ago
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  • I think some children's animations are bad to watch, simply because they add no value to the child's development in moral character. Shows like The Amazing World of Gumball are simply visual drugs with little or no beneficial moral message for children to learn from. I'm disheartened to see that most kids' shows these days are overstimulating visuals without a good story, character development, or moral lesson. I recently read a book called "Tending the Heart of Virtue" by Vigen Guroian. He argues that it doesn't necessarily matter how "badly" a character acts in these stories. What matters is the journey they go on and the lessons they learn along the way. Take the classic telling of Pinocchio for example. The wooden puppet is a terrible role model for children, but he is not rewarded for his bad behavior. Instead, he learns that lying and refusing to take responsibility for his actions turns him into a donkey and sends him into the belly of a whale. In the end, he learns from his mistakes and receives the gift of becoming a real boy. – skylarjay 8 months ago
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