From an early age, kids have access to a TV. It’s an exciting world that may influence how they see
the world and improve their education. For many parents, cartoons can play an integral part in your
routine, with perhaps an hour of allocated TV time scheduled in for your little ones each day. And as
most busy parents will understand, TV time is an excellent way to give yourself a short break and
recharge your batteries for a moment. But, have you ever wondered whether kid’s cartoons could
cause your children to imitate reckless behaviour? Read on and find out whether they should feature
health and safety warnings.
Why change is needed
In recent times, Sarah Bell, the writer and director of the popular Bob the Builder cartoon series,
announced that today’s new guidelines have meant that current cartoons need to be more
‘realistic’ than what they were before. We’ve seen a rise in concern from broadcasters, about
whether kids will imitate the behaviours of TV characters. This has resulted in a number of new
restrictions being placed on to cartoon and kid’s show writers, in order to facilitate better learning of
health and safety in kids TV cartoons.
Some may argue that these restrictions are unnecessary, yet are more realistic cartoons, not a good
thing? No matter what, cartoons will create a sense of escapism and fun for kids, but by adding
more realistic themes and situations, they will help to teach more valuable life lessons too.
Think back to the violent cartoons of yesteryear, such as Tom and Jerry or in more recent times,
Powerpuff Girls or Cow and Chicken. Perhaps these were fitting for the time, but would you be
happy with your kids watching them today? Health and safety have become much more prominent
in other areas of life including school, toys, games and sport, and how it is portrayed in cartoons and
kids TV shows should also reflect this. Because children today have a better understanding of many
health and safety situations, to not portray this properly on TV could mean children thinking that
dangerous behaviour is acceptable.
What would it mean for kid’s cartoons today?
In 2009, at a child safety conference in the UK, academics suggested that all kid’s cartoons should
introduce parental warnings about violence and injuries. This has taken place for certain shows, but
there are still many that contain reckless behaviour or violent material, which do not include
Now, the addition of warnings wouldn’t mean making huge changes to the type of content that is
produced, and it wouldn’t cause kid’s cartoons to become dull and safety obsessed. Instead, they
would become more realistic and teach children that actions have consequences as well as give an
accurate portrayal of safety in certain situations.
For example, Peppa Pig was reprimanded a few years ago, as there was an episode that showed
both Peppa and her brother George, travelling in a car without seatbelts. This small detail can affect
children’s perceptions of risk, and enable them to think that not wearing a seatbelt is acceptable.
For most cartoons today, the inclusion of health and safety warnings and better restrictions would
simply mean giving a better portrayal of life-like situations like these, as well as teach both parents
and children that the programme they are about to watch contains themes that are not representative of real life.
Health and safety kid’s cartoons
Better recognition of health and safety in kid’s cartoons should be taken seriously by anyone
involved in their production. Whether the cartoon characters are human, animal, alien or monster,
children will be influenced by their decisions and what they may see on the screen. Even if they live
in space or under the sea, if a child sees behaviour that they decide to imitate, it can easily be led
back to the source. For this reason, if Tom and Jerry or Looney Tunes were to be pitched in today’s
industry, they would likely be declined. Bashing each other and fighting in elaborate ways can
encourage violence in real life, as well as condone it.
Simply said, kid’s cartoons should show consequences and more realistic outcomes to situations
that may be deemed dangerous, high-risk or violent. The writers and producers of cartoons can’t
risk creating situations that kids will think are OK to be repeated, whether that’s not wearing a seat
belt, slapstick hitting a sibling or wandering too close to train tracks or roads.
By featuring health and safety warnings in kid’s cartoons, they will become aware that the stories
they are about to watch contain dangerous behaviour that should not be repeated. This can help
them become more aware of what is right and wrong, as well as give parents the opportunity to
discuss why the behaviours in these cartoons should not be imitated.
Perhaps, we will even see the creation of health and safety kid’s cartoons, that could help educate
and encourage safer behaviours and actions in your children. This could help improve daily
situations as well as facilitate safer behaviour in your little ones.
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