In the course of socialization and as a result of it, person acquires some knowledge, experience, skills that contribute to his integration into society, understanding the laws, rules and moral norms of society. In spite of the fact that socialization continues throughout the whole lifetime, in the first stage of life, that of childhood, it is more important because as due to the biological and genetic peculiarities, child’s first years impressions form his personality, character, preferences and behavior.
Socialization is carried out through so-called agents (peer group, church, family, school, etc.), but in the face of other socialization agents, in the modern world television is considered to be the most effective in dissemination of certain ideas, knowledge and information as it is easy retain the information through audio-visual transmission. Television impact tools are programs, advertisings, news, movies and cartoons. Cartoons are more attractive for children. They influence child’s perception of the world, the formation of values, and the upbringing process.
Cartoons and children
Children are curious, and passing time only in kindergarten/school and at home, the child’s thirst for knowledge does not quench. Moreover, children spend more time on TV than any of the above-mentioned structures. Researchers at the University of Michigan, Kaila Brooks and Brad Bushman[i], have found that,
- 2-5 years old children watch cartoon 32 hours a week,
- 6-11 years old, 28 hours,
- 71% of children aged 8-18 years have a separate TV set,
- 53% of children aged 7-12 are watching TV without parental supervision.
Professor Sharmin from the same university, states in his research that children are more attracted to cartoons than learning from traditional and academic sources, the main reason lying in cartoon scenarios, audiovisual effects, and color solutions. Scientists have proved that children not only learn from cartoons, but also memorize and imitate the behavior of cartoon characters due to their cognitive abilities.
Children at an early age have not enough skills yet to evaluate the action of cartoonists, and the protagonist’s actions are unknowable things for the child. The role of parents is important here, as they can prevent negative consequences, explaining to the children the consequences of this or that action.
As a result of survey conducted among 47 children and their parents in one of the Russian schools, 56% of respondents prefer foreign cartoons, 14% – Russians, 30% – and 2 – 33% of parents limit the choice of cartoons to children, 67% – not. The favorite heroes of 41% of the children were champagne, the transplants, the whips fairy, the small mermaid preferred 39%, Spong-Bob-12%, Luntik- 6%, Soviet cartoonists- 2%.
Cartoons’ influence on child development
Scientists are unanimous on the fact that cartoons have a positive or negative impact on children.
Positive impact: Among the positive effects, scientists distinguish auxiliary role of cartoons: education of children, additional information about the world and interesting entertainment. Cartoons teach children the rules of behavior in the society (respect for adults, teamwork, etc.), enrich the vocabulary (the child can master the language while watching a cartoon in a foreign language), helping to discover the world (Dora. traveler, Dexter’s Laboratory). Many of the cartoon characters healthy lives characters, have many positive characteristics, and children often imitate their heroes.
Negative impact. More research has been done to clarify the negative effects of cartoons on the behavior of children. Scientists mainly distinguish health damage, harsh behavior and sexuality symptoms. In 1997, 653 children in Japan were hospitalized due to epileptic seizures. Further studies have found that the reason for this is the 38th episode blaze of the “Pokemon” cartoon: all the children had watched that episode that day. Later, this episode was banned by the Japanese government and was never reshot.
American Pediatric Academy experts founded that the children who watch cruel cartoon are becoming aggressive, disobedient, cruel and angry. Cartoons help children develop imagination, but its negative impact may be that children can stay in the imaginary world for a long interval.
Professor of Michigan University Hysman notes that the violent scenes in cartoons create difficulties for children to understand the effect and its consequences. For example, when a heavy object falls on the hero’s head, the scene makes laugh, the hero is not harmed. Seeing this, the child gradually ruptures the action-related relationship (for example, Tom and Jerry, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles).
Cartoons as a means of spreading values
As any audio-visual product, cartoons can also be used as a means of spreading values. During the Second World War, the warring parties actively used all means of propaganda, including cartoons. By the request of the American government, the animated cartoonists of the Walt Disney company shot 32anti-nazi cartoons (the most famous of them are “Education for death: The making of the Nazi” (1943) and Oscar-winner “Der Fuehrer’s face” 1943). The main themes of the cartoons were the idea of creating an image of the enemy, timely payment of taxes and making the necessary investments in the army. Disney cartoons were then watched by the whole family and displayed in the cinemas as well, before broadcasting movie.
In 1936, an anti-American cartoon was shot in Japan using Mickey Mouse. In Nazi Germany during that time, any information contradicting anti-Nazi ideology was banned, including Disney’s cartoons. The most famous propagandistic cartoon of Germany during that period was “The Sleeping Prince”, where the evil witch was Democracy, the sleeping princess was Germany, and the prince was Adolf Hitler. The most successful propagandistic cartoon of the Soviet cinema is the “Miliones” (1963), which was shot to show the differences between capitalism and socialism during the Cold War.
In the modern world, cartoons are almost free from propaganda on war, and some cartoons are a means of spreading humanistic values and ideas. “Finding Nemo” (2003), “Zootopia” (2016), “Finding Dory” (2016) cartoons by journalists and film critics carry out that mission in the best way. “Finding Nemo” and “Finding Dory” cartoons show the relationships between people with disabilities (by the example of fish). “Zootopia” was shot during the refugee crisis and the main idea was to create a society free from anti-racist, xenophobia.
Walt Disney’s way to feminism[ii]
According to social psychology, human gender, the gender behavior is shaped from an early age by the ideas of the roles of women and men received in socialization processes. Scientists call this a distinctive socialization.
Disney was often accused of spreading anti-feminist ideas; the main target of criticism was the Disney’s most famous cartoon series, “Disney’s Princesses.” In 1939-1959, Disney’s princesses did not stand out with their individualistic traits, except that everyone was beautiful; had a pleasant voice and were good housewives. Just that time white women got their electoral right, but their role in the society had not changed so much. Heroes of “Snow White and Seven Dwarves” (1937), “Cinderella” (1950) and “Sleeping Princess” (1959) were mostly passive princesses who were not involved in any active action during the entire cartoon and were finally saved by the prince.
The new season of Disney begins with the “Little Mermaid” (1989), which lasted from 1989 to 1998. This period can be conditionally called as “the girls in distress” (“Little Mermaid” 1989, “Beauty and the Beast” (1991), “Aladdin” (1992), “Pacahonthas” (1995) and “Mulan” (1998)). In this period the personality of cartoons characters is emphasized, they have their own dreams, aspirations, but they always fall into a nuisance due to their own crave for adventures. There’s a special need to emphasize Belle, the protagonist of the cartoon “Beauty and the Beast” (1991), who is not a princess, and the story of her and the beast’s love is about the inner beauty. “Mulan” (1998) is the most feminist cartoon of this era. The protagonist goes to the Chinese army to save her father’s honor, but she has to pretend to be a man for it.
In 2009, the era of Disney’s pro-feminism began with the cartoon “Princess and the Frog”. It is true, there are romantic relationships in the movie “Princess and the Frog” and “Rapunzel” (2010), but the main characters are bright personalities and they save men several times. The cartoons “Brave” (2012), “Frozen” (2013), and the “Moana” (2016) focus on family love, relationships with the girl’s father, mother, brothers and sisters.
Soviet, Russian and Armenian cartoons
The Soviet-era cartoons (Soyuzmultfilm) were popular throughout the Soviet Union and beyond. Even after the collapse of the USSR, these cartoons still retained their reputation in former Soviet countries. According to a popular opinion, Soviet cartoons teach children goodness, friendship, diligence, and so on. However, in Russia in 2015, a number of Soviet cartoons were forbidden to display such as “Cheburashka and Crocodile Gena”, “Wait”, “Carlson Living on the Roof”, “Hedgehog in Fog”, “Bremen Musicians” and more. The main reasons for banning cartoons are the propagandas of improper lifestyles.
The most popular Russian cartoons in Russia are the series of cartoons about “Masha and the Bear”, “Fiksikner”, “Three Cats”, “New Bremen Musicians” and series about the Russian Giants (Bogatyr). The “Masha and the Bear” cartoon has caused some distress to pediatric psychiatrists as the main heroine of the cartoon does not teach anything positive. According to experts, cartoons about giants are mainly designed for adults.
The majority of Armenian cartoons that were filmed in the Soviet period and after independence are based on Armenian fairy tales, fables, and short stories. The most beloved are “Found Dream”, “Nazar the Brave”, “The Death of Kikos”, “Davit of Sassoun” and recently released “Anahit”. The cartoon “Anahit” is based on the same fairy tale, however, as the Russian giants’ multiculturalism, has modern motives. However, statistics show that Armenian children mostly prefer foreign cartoons.
Perhaps, Disney is one of the multiplayer giants, both full-length cartoons and cartoon series of its production are demanded by children, so their impact on children’s own social role is quite great.
Cartoons are an important teaching part of the children’s leisure activities and have an impact on their development. To protect children from the negative effects of cartoons, parents are advised to follow what cartoon the kids are watching, how many hours and age limitations.
[i] The survey refers to developing and developed countries.
[ii] It is interesting, that the name of the servant of the main evil character is Enver.
Author: Tatev Derzyan. © All rights are reserved.
Translator: Anush Gevorgyan.