As children we all remember those little rules that our parents would set for us that we didn’t quite understand. Like, why we needed to be in bed by 8pm when our cousins are still at our house or why we can’t have chocolate after brushing our teeth at night.
One rule that was enforced upon my brother and I when we were growing up was: No Cartoon Network. Cartoon Network is a television channel that had mostly cartoons like Johnny Bravo, DragonBall Z, Yu-Gi-Oh and The Powerpuff Girls.
I remember waking up earlier that my parents and my brother and I would turn the TV on to the Cartoon Network, and somehow with her supersonic hearing my mum would know that were watching ‘the forbidden channel’ and come out and change it.
But there were times when we would go to our Abuela’s house (Grandmother’s) and she would let us pick what shows we wanted to watch and of course our first channel of choice was Cartoon Network. There was a certain thrill about watching TV shows at Abuela’s home that we weren’t allowed to watch at home.
At the time, I never really understood why we couldn’t watch the television shows that everyone else was watching. We would come to school and everyone would be playing with their Yu-Gi-Oh cards and talking about the latest episode and I would stand and stare with blank eyes wondering what was going on!
Now, I fully understand why our mum enforced such strict rules. Just take a look at the intro to these two shows, one on Cartoon Network and the other on ABC and note the similarities and differences.
(The Powerpuff Girls on Cartoon Network)
(Play School on ABC)
There was a certain social anxiety around allowing children to watch cartoons that showcased violence and danger. I asked my mum about why she regulated our television consumption whilst growing up. ” I didn’t like the violence in the shows and cartoons characters that didn’t talk. If my children were going to watch TV, it was going to be educational and teach them how to interact properly,” she said. ” Especially when all the action style shows came out that involved guns and fighting. I didn’t want my kids to be influenced and think that its okay to fight and solve problems with violence.”
Even though both shows were aimed at the same age group, our mum didn’t want TV shows to influence the way that we acted and interacted with other people.
In shows like The Powerpuff girls, which was mainly aimed toward young girls, violence is a prominent factor where it was okay to ‘fight the bad guys.’
“The average child will watch 8,000 murders on TV before finishing elementary school.” Dr. John Nelson of the American Medical Association (an endorser of National TV-Turnoff Week) said that if 2,888 out of 3,000 studies show that TV violence is a casual factor in real-life mayhem, then it’s a public health problem.”(2007)
Children are very impressionable, and in order to guide children into understanding how to handle situations and how to act and interact in public spaces, the type of content streamed to them needs to be regulated.
Shows are first regulated by the code of classification where it deems a shows suitability for certain audiences. However, this is not enough as both The Powerpuff Girls and PlaySchool are both rated G.
This is where parents step in to change the child media consumption model. This model isn’t “just about turning off the television, it’s about changing the channel” (Wade, 2011).
The media rules that my mum enforced on us controlled the type of space that we were in. It protected our minds from violence and imagery influence the way that we grow as people. She ‘changed the consumption model’ and enforced her own rules that reflected the way that she wanted to raise her children. It was a control of space that altered that way that we as children interacted with others.
Nelson J,2007,Television & Health The Sourcebook for teaching science, viewed 29 September 2016 <https://www.csun.edu/science/health/docs/tv&health.html>
Wade L, 2011,’Study: some cartoons are bad for children’s brains,’ CNN, 12 September, viewed 29 September <http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2011/09/12/study-some-cartoons-are-bad-for-childrens-brains/>