Are Expat Children Watching Too Many Cartoons


A study issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics has revealed that fast-paced cartoons have a negative effect on a child’s attention span and, it seems, expatriate children watch more television than most.

A recent article published by discussed the popularity of children’s cartoons among expatriate children and the potentially damaging effects that they are having on children’s development and social skills. According to research that was conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, cartoons like SpongeBob adversely impacted the attention span of children who watched them on a regular basis and ultimately impacted children’s performance at school.

Speaking to the online news resource, Dr. Padmaraju Varrey, a senior psychiatrist at NMC Specialty Hospital, described the impact that regular exposure to fast-paced cartoons could have on a child’s brain: “Imagine the brain as a big plastic balloon. It stretches as it gets more information. Parents don’t see it, but in the long run, repetitive exposure on fast-paced cartoons affects retention, recall, and attention of the child,” he said.

And, according to Varrey, it is the children of expatriate parents who regularly leave their children with nannies and domestic helpers are most at risk: “When it’s not school season and we’re at work, we just tell our kids to watch TV. That way they would not get bored or fight with each other when we’re not around,” Jun said. The couple would sometimes be away for four to eight hours.

Varrey also added taht it isn’t just the threat of decreased concentration levels that is a risk. Children who are regularly exposed to modern-day cartoons such as the Simpsons have started to develop aggressive and unsocial tendencies: “There’s what we call copycat violence where children imitate the violence that they see on TV. It triggers aggressive behavior among children,” he said.

“This aggressive behavior often leads to bullying in school and at home. When they grow up, they become desensitized to violence and they won’t know how to care any more.

“These effects are beyond borders; it’s not only in the US or in the UAE. Everywhere we are in the world, we encounter problems with kids who are exposed to too much TV.”

Expatriates are advised to limit the potentially damaging effects that cartoons can have on their children’s behavior by following these steps:

  • Limit the amount of time that children are permitted access to the television.
  • Be mindful of which cartoons are predominantly intended for adult viewing and prevent your children from watching these.
  • If your child is regularly cared for by a helper of domestic maid, ensure that she is informed of which types of television your children are permitted to watch and for how long.
  • Encourage your children to engage in other activities, such as reading or playing games.
  • Spent time as a family participating in activities that do not involve the television.

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