Providing Kids Alternatives to Violent “Entertainment”
Q: I'm concerned about the violent content of some children's cartoon shows and the toys and other products connected with them. My husband thinks they're harmless. What's your point of view?
A: I share your misgivings. There's a trend toward a brand of violence in some of today's cartoons and toys that I see as a dangerous departure from the more traditional combat-type games in which boys have always engaged. For one thing, the characters tend to be adults involved in adult activities, some of which are highly questionable. I don't feel that they are appropriate role models for impressionable young children. In addition, there's an occult or New Age flavor to many of these programs and products. The settings are mythical or futuristic, and the action often revolves around superstition, sorcery, and magic. For these reasons they concern me for spiritual as well as psychological reasons.
The electronic media has incredible power to "sell" these dubious heroes and their exploits to our children. Studies have measured actual physiological changes that occur when kids are watching a violent television program or movie: the pulse rate quickens, the eyes dilate, the hands sweat, the mouth goes dry, and breathing accelerates. It should be obvious that this kind of "entertainment" has a dramatic emotional impact--especially if it's repeated often enough. And the toys that are marketed as "spin-offs" from such programs only serve to reinforce or extend those negative effects. What's more, there's no balancing positive, healthy, or educational component to these products.
That's why our organization and others have made major investments in high-quality videos and other materials for children. We must provide alternatives for families that want their kids to have wholesome entertainment but are determined to protect them from the popular culture. We will continue to do what we can to meet that need.