Should I be concerned about the violent cartoons my kid enjoys watching?

Whether it's in old-school classics such as Tom and Jerry or it's modern slapstick such as in Oggy and the Cockroaches, many kids love the action and absurdity of cartoon mayhem and, yes, violence. But if you choose shows geared for your kids' age, co-view, talk through some of the images and ideas, and balance the rough stuff with other media. These types of cartoons probably won't negatively impact most kids. 

If your kid watches a lot of violent cartoons and is demonstrating troubling behavior -- for example, imitating the characters, acting out toward others, showing excessive fear, demonstrating risky behaviors, or slipping in school -- violent cartoons could be a factor. Kids younger than 7 don't necessarily distinguish between cartoon and real violence, so they will process a made-up situation the way they would a real one. Here are a few things to consider when evaluating the shows your kid watches.

The amount of violence. Is the entire show based on violence such as explosions, aggression, and weaponry?

The type of violence. Even cartoon graphics can portray realistic violence -- for example, kidnapping, torture, sexual violence, and use of weapons -- and show blood.

The role of violence. Any portrayal of violence should show the consequences of subsequent pain and suffering, not triumph.

Total exposure to media violence. Does your kid go from violent cartoon to violent video game to violent DVD throughout the day?

Use Common Sense's age ratings to make sure your kids' shows are geared for their ages.

The Child Mind Institute contributed to this article. Learn more at childmind.org.

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Comments

Teen, 15 years old written by Greasybacon

It's only a cartoon, as long as your kid doesn't explore more violent and realistic media you shouldn't worry. They probably wont be flattening you with a frying pan anytime soon!
Kid, 9 years old

This all depends on the maturity of your kid. If they watch very violent shows, make sure they know that the show or movie should not be entirely based on violence and should not have inappropriate violence. If they understand this and follow restrictions on what they can see, they can watch media with a fair amount of violence. If not, you should take action.
Teen, 15 years old written by Common sense LST

You should not worry about it a lot unless he acts like this all the time or is frequently angry or aggressive. If your kid is, then you should take plenty of action.