1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
For many years, behavioral and educational researchers have studied the psychological effects of violent cartoons and other violent television programs on viewers, particularly children (Krieg, 2003). Children all over the world have been entertained by various animated films and cartoon shows for over 80 years. Currently, children across the world are exposed to animated film classics and new cartoon series which can be seen on cable/satellite channels, such as Boomerang, Cartoon Network, and The Disney Channel. Violence in cartoons is an integral part of cartoon content. In fact, frequency of violence in cartoons is higher than in live-action dramas or comedies (Potter & Warren, 1998). As the result, children are more exposed to violence showed in the cartoon program than any other television program broadcasted. Cartoon watching affects the attitude and behavior of children i.e. their liking and disliking, way of talking, and behaving with other children. It also has a strong effect on their language and the way of their dressing and eating. When children watch cartoon character is smoking they might likely practice it someday. Cartoon related injuries are now becoming a serious problem, which is now needed to be addressed in the world today. Due to strong affiliation with these supernatural characters in cartoons, many children fall prey to some serious injuries (Saturnine, 2004). Under the guise of “having fun”.
There has been a serious argument among researcher that children's cartoons are too violent say that these cartoons will greatly affect these children's behaviors growing up. Violence is a learned behavior and therefore children need to see violence in order to become violence themselves (Krieg, 2003). If a child is viewing their favorite character hitting, kicking, and beating up the "bad guys" a child will learn these behaviors too. However, according to Siegel (1996), children also learn how to endure and strength to tackle the evil that has bedeviled the society when watching their favorite character doing so. And because most of these cartoons do not show any consequences for these behaviors and in a sense glorify violence; children think that this is an acceptable form of problem solving (Benham, 2006). Children also experience other negative effects from viewing these violent cartoons such as, antisocial behaviors, increased anxiety, and nightmares containing TV characters (Chandler, 1999).
However, many parents and teachers across Nigeria are worried about the cartoons their children are watching (Krieg, 2003). According to Krieg (2003), they feel that the cartoons have become too violent and are having negative long-term effects on children. It is common to see young boys pretending to shoot one another, while jumping on the couch and hiding in closets as a sort of make-believe fort. But parents say that children are learning these behaviors from cartoons and imitating them. Others however, disagree; they say that violence in cartoons does not affect children and that children need this world of fantasy in their lives. They say that children would show these same behaviors regardless of the content of the cartoons they watch (Benham, 2006).
It was found in previous study that what children watches on TV at age 8 will be one of the best predictors of how aggressive they will be as an adult. The children's TV viewing outweighed other factors such as child-rearing practices and socioeconomic factors (Chandler, 1999). Chandler (1999) also found that what a child watches after age 8 is not nearly as important as what they watch before age 8. Others argue that this violence desensitizes children to real life violence. They see the cartoon characters beating up the bad guys so when they see a bully at school picking on another kid they are less likely to find anything wrong with that situation.
It has long been accepted that certain behaviour by children causes significant alarm, distress, fear or intimidation to certain members of society (Siegel, 1996). Antisocial behaviors are disruptive acts characterized by covert and overt hostility and intentional aggression toward others. Antisocial behaviors exist along a severity continuum and include repeated violations of social rules, defiance of authority and of the rights of others, deceitfulness, theft, and reckless disregard for self and others (Snow, 2004). Antisocial behavior can be identified in children as young as three or four years of age. If left unchecked these coercive behavior patterns will persist and escalate in severity over time, becoming a chronic behavioral disorder. Antisocial behavior may be overt, involving aggressive actions against siblings, peers, parents, teachers, or other adults, such as verbal abuse, bullying and hitting; or covert, involving aggressive actions against property, such as theft, vandalism, and fire-setting (Snow, 2004). Covert antisocial behaviors in early childhood may include noncompliance, sneaking, lying, or secretly destroying another's property. Antisocial behaviors also include drug and alcohol abuse and high-risk activities involving self and others (Anderson, 2008).
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
It is a general believe that adults can watch violence in cartoon and other TV series and understand that it is not real, children on the other hand may have difficulties in differentiating between what is real and what is make believe. This is has made it necessary to understand how cartoon violence influences the behaviour of children. Multiple risk factors for development and persistence of antisocial behaviors include genetic, neurobiological, and environmental stressors including violent cartoons, beginning at the prenatal stage and often continuing throughout the childhood years (Haynes, 2008). Heavy exposure to media violence through television, movies, Internet sites, video games, and even cartoons has long been associated with an increase in the likelihood that a child will become desensitized to violence and behave in aggressive and antisocial ways (Haynes, 2008). However, research relating violent cartoons with antisocial behavior is inconsistent and varies in design and quality, with findings of both increased and decreased aggression after exposure to violent cartoons. However, the researcher is investigating the correlation between violent cartoons and antisocial behaviors in children.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF STUDY
The following are the objectives of this study:
i. To examine the correlation between violent cartoons and antisocial behaviors in children.
ii. To determine the extent of children exposure to violent cartoons.
iii. To determine the positive influence of cartons on children.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
i. What is the correlation between violent cartoons and antisocial behaviors in children?
ii. What is the extent of children exposure to violent cartoon?
iii. What are the positive influence of cartoons on children?
Ho: There is no significant relationship between violent cartoons and antisocial behaviors in children.
HA: There is significant relationship between violent cartoons and antisocial behaviors in children
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
The outcome of this study will form a useful guide for government, policy makers and the video censor board in regulating the violent content of cartoons videos on sale in the country considering the antisocial consequences on children. The results of this study will also educate the parents and teachers on the type of cartoons that the children should be exposed to and the consequences. This will also form a guide for the parents and teachers in educating their children on the language and attitude that are socially acceptable and the ones that are not. This research will also serve as a resource base to other scholars and researchers interested in carrying out further research in this field subsequently, if applied will go to an extent to provide new explanation to the topic.
1.7 SCOPE/LIMITATIONS OF STUDY
This correlational study between violent cartoons and antisocial behaviors in children will cover the violent contents of popular cartoon videos on sale in Nigeria with a view of identifying the negative consequences on children behaviour. Parents and children will also participate as subjects in this research.
Financial constraint: Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint: The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Behaviour: The way in which one acts or conducts oneself, especially toward others.
Cartoons: A motion picture using animation techniques to photograph a sequence of drawings rather than real people or objects.
Violence: Behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.