CORRELATIONAL STUDY BETWEEN VIOLENT CARTOONS AND ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR OF CHILDREN
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
For many years, behavioral and educational researchers have studied the psychological effects of violent cartoons and other violent television programs on viewers, particularly children (Krieg, 2003). Children all over the world have been entertained by various animated films and cartoon shows for over 80 years. Currently, children across the world are exposed to animated film classics and new cartoon series which can be seen on cable/satellite channels, such as Boomerang, Cartoon Network, and The Disney Channel. Violence in cartoons is an integral part of cartoon content. In fact, frequency of violence in cartoons is higher than in live-action dramas or comedies (Potter & Warren, 1998). As the result, children are more exposed to violence showed in the cartoon program than any other television program broadcasted. Cartoon watching affects the attitude and behavior of children i.e. their liking and disliking, way of talking, and behaving with other children. It also has a strong effect on their language and the way of their dressing and eating. When children watch cartoon character is smoking they might likely practice it someday. Cartoon related injuries are now becoming a serious problem, which is now needed to be addressed in the world today. Due to strong affiliation with these supernatural characters in cartoons, many children fall prey to some serious injuries (Saturnine, 2004). Under the guise of “having fun”.
There has been a serious argument among researcher that children’s cartoons are too violent say that these cartoons will greatly affect these children’s behaviors growing up. Violence is a learned behavior and therefore children need to see violence in order to become violence themselves (Krieg, 2003). If a child is viewing their favorite character hitting, kicking, and beating up the “bad guys” a child will learn these behaviors too. However, according to Siegel (1996), children also learn how to endure and strength to tackle the evil that has bedeviled the society when watching their favorite character doing so. And because most of these cartoons do not show any consequences for these behaviors and in a sense glorify violence; children think that this is an acceptable form of problem solving (Benham, 2006). Children also experience other negative effects from viewing these violent cartoons such as, antisocial behaviors, increased anxiety, and nightmares containing TV characters (Chandler, 1999).
However, many parents and teachers across Nigeria are worried about the cartoons their children are watching (Krieg, 2003). According to Krieg (2003), they feel that the cartoons have become too violent and are having negative long-term effects on children. It is common to see young boys pretending to shoot one another, while jumping on the couch and hiding in closets as a sort of make-believe fort. But parents say that children are learning these behaviors from cartoons and imitating them. Others however, disagree; they say that violence in cartoons does not affect children and that children need this world of fantasy in their lives. They say that children would show these same behaviors regardless of the content of the cartoons they watch (Benham, 2006). It was found in previous study that what children watches on TV at age 8 will be one of the best predictors of how aggressive they will be as an adult. The children’s TV viewing outweighed other factors such as child-rearing practices and socioeconomic factors (Chandler, 1999). Chandler (1999) also found that what a child watches after age 8 is not nearly as important as what they watch before age 8. Others argue that this violence desensitizes children to real life violence. They see the cartoon characters beating up the bad guys so when they see a bully at school picking on another kid they are less likely to find anything wrong with that situation.
It has long been accepted that certain behaviour by children causes significant alarm, distress, fear or intimidation to certain members of society (Siegel, 1996). Antisocial behaviors are disruptive acts characterized by covert and overt hostility and intentional aggression toward others. Antisocial behaviors exist along a severity continuum and include repeated violations of social rules, defiance of authority and of the rights of others, deceitfulness, theft, and reckless disregard for self and others (Snow, 2004). Antisocial behavior can be identified in children as young as three or four years of age. If left unchecked these coercive behavior patterns will persist and escalate in severity over time, becoming a chronic behavioral disorder. Antisocial behavior may be overt, involving aggressive actions against siblings, peers, parents, teachers, or other adults, such as verbal abuse, bullying and hitting; or covert, involving aggressive actions against property, such as theft, vandalism, and fire-setting (Snow, 2004). Covert antisocial behaviors in early childhood may include noncompliance, sneaking, lying, or secretly destroying another’s property. Antisocial behaviors also include drug and alcohol abuse and high-risk activities involving self and others (Anderson, 2008).