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7 children’s cartoons that teach bad habits

Did you know that not all cartoons are suitable for children and may actually do them more harm than good? We give you the breakdown of 10 children's cartoons and how they are harming your child by teaching them bad habits.

Now that the experts have given the green light for children to be exposed to screen time, parents everywhere are heaving sighs of relief and feeling less guilty about allowing their kids to be glued to mobile devices or watch TV while mum and dad get a few minutes to themselves.

However not all cartoons are suitable for children and may actually do them more harm than good.

Some animations such as Family Guy, The Simpsons, American Dad, South Park, and Beavis & Butthead, are examples of cartoons which are definitely not for children and actually targeted at a more mature audience, due to the coarse language, adult scenes and gory violence.

But did you know that some of the seemingly innocent children’s cartoons that your kids may be watching on a regular basis contain certain messages which may teach them some bad habits without you even realising it?

We give you the breakdown of these cartoons and how they are harming your child.


Pokémon – Makes children aggressive

This wildly popular Japanese cartoon is a favourite amongst many children and adults alike. But how is that adorable little yellow Pikachu and his friends sending out the wrong message to kids, you may ask?

Well, psychologists have analysed the violence levels in a few TV programmes, including Pokémon, and they believe that watching such animated shows can make young people more aggressive.

Their studies show that children identify with cartoon characters just as much as real actors, and that a lot of the animated shows actually contain more violence than other TV programmes aimed at adolescents!

“Labelling certain types of media violence as 'fantasy' violence is misleading and may actually serve to increase children's access to harmful violent content by reducing parental concern", warns Professor Douglas Gentile, who led the study which was published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology.

SpongeBob SquarePants – Fast pace affects short term memory

This cheery yellow sponge and his best friend the starfish might be another crowd favourite, but child psychologists warn that watching fast-paced cartoons such as SpongeBob SquarePants, even for just a few minutes, will hinder abstract thinking, affect short-term memory and impulse control in young children.

Researchers conducted an experiment and found that young children who watched this fast-paced cartoon would perform significantly worse in tasks assigned to them and the study authors note that this show has an immediate negative effect on kids.

The frenzied pace of this popular cartoon which switches scene on average every 11 seconds, as compared to other cartoons which switch only twice a minute, make kids distracted and may kill their attention spans.

3. Calliou – Negative behaviour

Calliou – Negative behaviour

It is pretty common for toddlers to get a little whiny and have a tantrum every now and then, but this Calliou character really takes the cake.

His constant whining, temper tantrums and general spoiled behaviour is appalling yet his parents seem to always let him get away with everything.

He refuses to share with his friends or little sister, his eating skills are worrying for someone his age, he has no manners, he talks back to his parents, and thinks that the world revolves around him.

Children watching this show may be able to relate to the character, but it can also make them imitate him and make them feel that it is fine to treat others around them poorly or be rude to everyone.

Watching Calliou will make your kids take a big step back in their development and encourage them to display spoiled, bratty behaviour.

4. Winx Club – Inappropriate attire and behaviour

Winx Club – Inappropriate attire and behaviour

Young children are very impressionable and tend to imitate what they see around them or watch on TV.

This cartoon which is about a bunch of fairies with special powers fighting to save the universe is sending out the wrong messages to their young viewers because of the characters’ skimpy attires.

The skirts and dresses that these fairies wear are incredibly short, some of them bare a large portion of their mid-riffs, and some online reviewers have pointed out the sexualised nature of the characters.

Marketed for tweens (youths between childhood and the teenage years), Winx Club also contains scenes where the characters can be seen passionately kissing their boyfriends.

Studies have shown that youths who watch a lot of sexual content on TV are more likely to initiate sexual intercourse or participate in other sexual activities earlier than their peers who don't watch such sexually explicit shows.

5. Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom – Calling others “stupid”

Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom – Calling others “stupid”

A primary two student once nervously disclosed to me that he knew of a “bad word” beginning with the letter C. To my relief, he was actually referring to the word “crazy” (I know, kids are so innocent and sweet!).

This cute cartoon about fairies and elves living together in harmony is actually pretty clean and relatively harmless, but the only gripe we have is that some of the characters seem to use the word “stupid” a lot when describing other people or animals.

To young children, their equivalent of “the ‘S’ word” may actually be the word “stupid”, so for the adult characters in the story, such as Nanny Plum and The Wise Old Elf, to go around calling other animals stupid, makes us a little uncomfortable.

Other than that, this cartoon is actually pretty fun to watch but we wish that they’d just magic away that bad word!

6. Dora the Explorer – False education

Dora the Explorer – False education



This bilingual children’s show may be great in representing a minority ethnic group in television programming and some parents deem it as an educational programme.

But although this show allows its two to five year old viewers the opportunity to help Dora solve riddles and puzzles throughout each episode, the interactive segments may actually be false education to young children.

Throughout the cartoon, viewers are asked questions by Dora and her friends related to the episode and wait a few seconds by keeping silent and staring blankly while the kids supposedly shout out their answers.

Even if the wrong answer is given (or any answer at all), the child will still be praised for giving a supposed correct answer.

The show may be fun to watch and encourages audience interaction and participation, but it also creates false education and kids might think that their incorrect answers are acceptable just because a cute little Latina and her friendly monkey said so.

7. Peppa Pig – Encourages overeating

Peppa Pig – Encourages overeating

Peppa Pig may have gotten some flak in the past about being a bad influence on kids due to the character’s bratty and rude behaviour, but there’s a new cause of concern that has recently come to light.

Studies show that kids who are exposed to chubby cartoon characters are more likely to eat indulgently and it fuels obesity in children.

Margaret Campbell, marketing professor at Colorado State University’s Leeds School of Business and lead author of the study, says, “They have a tendency to eat almost twice as much indulgent food as kids who are exposed to perceived healthier looking cartoon characters or no characters at all”.

Although the influences of childhood obesity are wide and varied, the study also shows that the best way to fight these negative influences is to reinforce healthy thinking and remind kids to be active, athletic, and choose healthy food.

Parental guidance is advised

There are many educational shows out there which are suitable for kids, such as Sesame Street, but as with all TV programmes and mobile apps that your child has access to, it is recommended that there is a parent or responsible adult supervising to ensure that the content is appropriate for kids.

Different parents also have different values and beliefs so what may raise a few eyebrows for some may not cause others to even bat an eyelid.

If you are concerned about the programmes that your children are watching, it is best to watch it with them to be familiar with and fully understand the messages that are being portrayed.

This article is republished with permission from theAsianParent