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Cartoon Review: The Arthur Books By Marc Brown

1184 words - 5 pages

As a child, I always looked forward to Saturday morning cartoons. My family had the most basic cable package, which consisted of fewer than twenty channels. These did not include popular kid’s channels such as Nickelodeon or Disney Channel. One morning per week cartoons appeared on my TV screen, and I would wake up early, excited and engrossed in the plotlines. As times have changed and more research has been conducted, opinions on the effects of have cartoons changed. Several medical organizations came together in 2000 to submit a joint statement to Congress expressing “viewing entertainment violence can lead to increases in aggressive attitudes, values, and behavior, particularly in children” (Wilson, 2008, p.100). Today there are correlations between aggressive cartoons and aggressive behavior in children. There have also been findings supporting educational television programs, but we are left to discern what qualifies as educational. I have chosen to review two cartoons I grew up watching; PBS’s Arthur and Cartoon Network’s Pokémon. I viewed the first two episodes of each program, and drew my conclusions from these observations. In this paper, I offer basic synopsis of each television program and assess some of their basic features such as targeted age group, promotion of pro- or anti-social behavior, as well as themes and cultural and gender aspects. I then analyze these aspects in their effect on early childhood development, whether positive or negative.
Arthur is a cartoon based on the Arthur books by Marc Brown about an 8 year old aardvark in the third grade and the lessons he learns by virtue of his family, friends, and community. According to Common Sense Media, Arthur is recommended for ages 5 and up, and portrays positive messages and positive role modeling. In the first two episodes, Arthur teaches about dealing with bullies and self-confidence. I believe the show portrays pro-social behavior through positive social skills, such as dealing with bullying. Arthur tells the story of when he first began wearing glasses, and his friend Francine called him “four-eyes.” It bothered him, but when he saw his role model actor Wilbur Rabbit wearing glasses just like his, he was able to change Francine’s perspective on glasses, to the extent where she began wearing fake glasses. Rather than getting aggressive, Arthur took an upsetting situation and found something positive to make him feel better. Once he felt confident in himself, his peers stopped teasing him. They were able to accept him after he accepted himself. Educational television such as Arthur, Mr. Rogers, or Sesame Street can offer children “new experiences, enrich academic knowledge, enhance motivation and attitudes, and nurture social skills” (Rathus, 2011, p.289). Research by M.L. Mares and E. Woodard found that that prosocial television had the strongest effect on children with respect to altruism, positive interactions, and tolerance (Wilson, 2008). Tolerance can be the...

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