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, when it comes to cartoons, do you know that not all children’s cartoons are suitable for little ones? There are several bad TV shows for kids that we don’t know about.
Some animations such as Family Guy, The Simpsons, American Dad, South Park, and Beavis & Butthead, are examples of seemingly kid TV shows that actually send bad messages and are definitely not for children. But they are 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 bad TV shows for kids and how they are harming your children.
Image Source: iStock
Top 8 Bad TV Shows for Kids That Parents Should Avoid
#1 Pokémon – Makes Children Aggressive
One of the most popular children’s cartoons, Pokémon, is a favourite amongst many children and adults alike. But how are that adorable little yellow Pikachu and his friends one of the bad TV shows for 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. In fact, a lot of animated characters promote 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. The professor led this study which was published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology.
#2 Cow and Chicken – Uses Sexual Innuendos
With episode names such as The Ugly Weenie, Squirt The Daisies, Tongue Sandwich, Grizzly Beaver Safari, Meet Lance Sackless, and Horn Envy, we’re surprised how much sexual connotation is squeezed into this cartoon about a curious pair of siblings. The titles alone show just how Cow and Chicken is part of our list of bad TV shows for kids.
Not only does Cow constantly rub and lick her own udders, but she sometimes asks her brother, Chicken, to count her teats, and there is also a pantless red devil who walks around with his derriere on full display.
One episode in particular (Season 2, Episode 20) was deemed so controversial and aired only once before being canned, was when a tough all-female biker gang broke into Cow and Chicken’s house and began to eat the carpet.
For those who are unaware, “carpet munching” is actually a term used for cunnilingus (female oral sex).
Sure, this may fly over some kids’ heads (and even some adults). But the writers and animators of this cartoon knew very well what they were insinuating when they churned out this stuff for children to watch. Certainly one of the many bad TV shows for kids, we’d say.
#3 SpongeBob SquarePants – Fast Pace Affects Short-term Memory
It may come as a surprise that this particular popular cartoon is one of the bad TV shows for kids to most experts.
This cheery yellow sponge and his best friend the starfish might be another crowd favourite, but child psychologists warn that watching fast-paced children’s 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 switches scenes on average every 11 seconds. This, as compared to other children’s cartoons that switch only twice a minute. This can distract kids and may kill their attention spans making it one of the bad TV shows for kids but can do their development harm.
#4 Calliou – Negative Behaviour
Image Source: Youtube
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 are appalling. Yet his parents seem to always let him get away with everything.
He refuses to share with his friends or little sister and his eating skills are worrying for someone his age. He also 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. It will in fact encourage them to display spoiled, bratty behaviour making it one of the most harmful and bad TV shows for kids.
#5 Winx Club – Inappropriate Attire and Behaviour
Image Source: Screengrab from Youtube
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 message to their young viewers. That’s 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 that raise concerns to most parents. These scenes includes kissing or other public displays of affection.
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.
#6 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 children’s 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!
#7 Cocomelon – Screentime Overstimulation
Image source: Instagram (CoCoMelon)
Aside from speech delay and tantrums, Cocomelon earned a reputation of being too overstimulating to young kids. The fast-paced animation and colourful scenes make it addicting to young viewers. It also triggers a drug-like state where they struggle to stop themselves from lessening screentime.
Cocomelon gained fame and love from parents and young children for its catchy rhymes and fun animation. However, the qualities that made them famous come with negative impacts on viewers over time. To some parents, the show helped their children talk properly. Unfortunately, others disagree.
The show’s songs and enjoyable themes attract a lot of toddlers and young kids. This provides parents some time for themselves while their children self-learn with Cocomelon’s educational aspects. However, mums and dads need to set a schedule to promote healthy screen time.
#8 Pepe Le Pew – Perpetuating Rape Culture
Pepe Le Pew’s persistent advances on his unwilling love interest have been argued to perpetuate rape culture, as his amorous behaviour is not mutually felt, yet he still pushes on.
Poor Penelope Pussycat, on the other hand, always expresses her terror and fear of Pepe. She does all she can to get away from this creepy stalker, sometimes risking her own life in some episodes. She chooses situations where it appears as if she has actually ended it!
When the skunk does manage to capture the cat, she desperately struggles to get away from him. Yet, he still can’t take no for answer and refuses to leave her alone.
This show has normalised male sexual violence without parents realising it. Definitely not something you want to teach your little one. This makes it one of the bad TV shows for kids to avoid at all costs. The bad message to boys is that it’s fine to hug and kiss a girl.
In almost every episode, Penelope clearly does her best to show Pepe her discomfort. It may seem cute and harmless now, but do you want your little boy to grow up thinking sexual assault is acceptable?
Image Source: iStock
#9 Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers – Racial Stereotyping
Another shocking addition to this list of kid TV shows that send bad messages. But if you look closely at the different Power Rangers, you will realise that the colours of their suit somehow reflect the colour of their skin.
The Yellow Ranger is an Asian girl who has trouble operating her vehicle; the Black Ranger is an African American guy whose fight sequence includes some smooth dance moves; the Red Ranger is a Native American with deep mystical wisdom.
Moreover, the strongest member of the team is the White Ranger; a Caucasian guy who vaguely dons KKK garb at times.
Although this children’s television programme from the ’90s is supposed to portray a group of racially diverse teenagers, according to researchers, even young school-aged children are aware of and can be negatively affected by racial stereotypes.
Clark McKown, psychology faculty member of UC Berkeley says, “Being aware of racial dynamics can contribute to the gap in achievement between children from different ethnic groups.”
#10 Peppa Pig – Fat Shaming and Disrespectful Behaviour
Don’t be fooled by the simple animation and funny jokes from Peppa Pig. The show subtly appropriates fat shaming and disrespectfulness to parents. In truth, one of the cartoon’s constant humour centres on the weight of Peppa’s Dad.
For a show about pigs, it’s quite ironic to believe that Peppa Pig likes to insult her dad’s size. To make matters worse, the young pig described the large size of her dad’s tummy as the password to her tree house.
In almost all episodes, Peppa likes saying ‘Yuk” to anything that disgusts her. And she does this a LOT. Our little ones might pick up on this habit and unintentionally disrespect people around them.
This article was updated by Kaira De la Rosa.