Moral Boundaries Taught by Cartoons

My daughters have been watching a lot of the old Disney movies lately. I’m 28 years old so it’s been quite a while since I’ve sat down and watched an old Disney movie. I was honestly shocked at first. Watching these old cartoon movies has made me realize how sanitized cartoons and kids shows today are. A lot of kids shows today do not have a clear definition of good and evil. If there is a bad guy in todays kids shows he is not¬†detestable like the villians from years back. In Peter Pan, for example, Captain Hook smokes (multiple cigars at a time even). Smoking in a lot of households is something that is considered a bad habit, and even morally wrong. Here we see there is a difference between the way the hero acts and the villain acts.

In Snow White the evil queen sends a hunter to cut out Snow White’s heart and bring it back to her in a box! You will never see such a violent evil act discussed in todays cartoons! However the act of cutting out Snow White’s heart is conceived by the evil queen, a person whom no child is encouraged to¬†imitate. The hunter in the end does not carry out the task which gives us a stark contrast between good and evil and an example to do good over evil.

Dora the Explorer is a prime example of a show where no moral absolutes are taught. Kids are taught how to count, recognize colors, how to read, and how to speak spanish, but they are not taught right and wrong. Swiper, the villian, is adored by children the world over. Swiper, as his name implies, steals things. When he is caught stealing or attempting to steal he is verbally reprimanded, simply says “Oh man” and goes on to swipe on the very next episode.

The question I pose is; are our children better off watching sanitized cartoons where there is no definition of good and evil, or watching shows where they will be exposed to a little smoking, drinking, and violence but there is a clear definition of good and evil where you have the opportunity to teach them? It is the parents job to teach their children, not cartoons, and other media. But your kids are going to watch cartoons so isn’t it good if they learn some moral boundaries in that time, not just counting and letters?


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