Cartoons and violent behavior in children

Television is an integral part of most families’ lifestyles. Most households now own even more than one television. The average child watches 1,680 minutes of television per week. The number of murders seen on television by the time the average child finishes elementary school is 8,000. (Herr, 2007). “The UCLA Television Violence Monitoring Project (1995), commissioned by four major American networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC), defined violence as anything that involves physical harm or a threat of physical harm of any sort, intentional or unintentional, self-inflicted or inflicted by someone or something else. (Alter, 1997).

Cartoons that provide comedy can still have violence, then there are the cartoons that are just shown for their portrayal of superheroes, and we still have cartoons that have educational value and worth to them. Violence in cartoons is seemingly now an integral part of cartoon content. In fact, the frequency of violence in cartoons is higher than in live-action dramas or comedies. (Potter & Warren, 1998). Many cartoons that provide comedic elements still portray elements of violence.

Examples of these cartoons are: Woody Woodpecker, Scooby-Doo, and Bugs Bunny. These cartoons actually teach us that violence is funny. (Von Riedemann, 2007). In return, children could actually try these things at home, such as hitting someone over the head with a frying pan, thinking this is either funny or that no one can seriously be injured by it. While other cartoons just portray violence with superhero qualities. Some examples of these cartoons are: The X-Men, Power Rangers, Superman, Batman, and Spiderman.

These cartoons characterize fighting or fleeing from violence, rejoicing in violent acts, and depicting more violence than a child would ordinarily see. (Von Riedemann, 2007). In these types of scenarios, children mimic playing with guns and getting into fights with swords with friends at the playground at school and can even get into trouble this way. We have yet one more class of cartoons and that is the educational programming which is considered non-violent.

Some examples of these cartoons are: Dora the Explorer, Barney, Bob the Builder, and Sesame Street. (Kirsh, 2005). These types of shows are intended more for the younger audience and children tend to quickly grow tired of them once they reach a certain age. However, they contain fantastic learning material and the longer you can keep your children interested the better. In conclusion, studies have consistently shown that aggressive behavior towards peers increases following the viewing of non-comedic cartoons.

Moreover, comedic violence in cartoons suggests violence may only increase aggressive thoughts and desires. (Kirsh, 2005). Parents must be vigilant and very selective when making choices on television entertainment for their children. Children must learn at home and in school that violence is not a means of settling differences with others, as they have come to believe from watching television. Parents and mentors must discourage violence on television for our children’s safety.


  1. Alter, S. (1997). “Violence on Television.” Ottawa, ON: Library of Parliament. resource/reports/parl.htm
  2. Barrier, M. (1999). Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in Its Golden Age. Oxford University Press.
  3. Herr, N. (2007). Television and Health. The Sourcebook for Teaching Science. Retrieved April 30, 2010, from
  4. Kirsh, S. (2005, November). Cartoon Violence and Aggression in Youth. Science Direct. Retrieved April 30, 2010, from
  5. Potter, W. J., & Warren, R. (1998). Humor as a camouflage of televised violence. Journal of Communication, 48, 40?57.
  6. Von Riedemann, D. (November, 2007). Cartoons Cause Violence? Seattle Children’s Hospital Study Links Aggressive Behaviour with TV. Suite Retrieved April 30, 2010, from
  7. Cartoons Cause Violence?: Seattle Children’s Hospital Study Links Aggressive Behaviour with TV Cartoons Cause Violence?: Seattle Children’s Hospital Study Links Aggressive Behaviour with TV
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