The cartoons They are not what they used to be. Over time, these productions, usually aimed at children, have evolved not only to adapt to the tastes of audiences, but also to the demands and concerns of parents. This means a greater variety of programs with different levels of quality in terms of stories and animation style, as well as the creation of new sub-genres created for other audiences, such as cartoons aimed at adults. A change that got a lot of attention from everyone is turn on of items not normally associated with these programs, such as characters, stories and other details relating to LGBT community. While some are of the opinion that this material should not be included in children’s productions, others believe that this is a positive step in the fight for turn on. However, due to the complexity of this topic, we spoke to several mental health experts to hear their thoughts on this trend when it comes to creating children’s content.
The influence of cartoons
Animated series are usually a set of animated works related to a main theme and the same characters. Likewise, whether they have plots that take place in fantasy worlds or real-life spaces, these programs generally fall into four categories: cultural, violent, educational, and entertainment. Traditionally, these series were broadcast on TV in the evenings (after school) and on weekends, but today, thanks to how technology has advanced and the creation of platforms such as YouTube, Netflix and even Disney+, animated series are available at any time. However, regardless of the medium or the time it airs, what doesn’t change is the impact this content can have on its youngest viewers.
“Let’s remember that the idea that boys and girls have about what the world, life, people and society are about is through what they are exposed to during those years,” explains Blas Valenzuela (@psic.blasvalenzuela), children’s and adolescent psychologist and expert on sexual diversity and gender. “If they are exposed to families that are diverse because they understand, respect and accept that people are also different, diverse and deserve respect, they will grow up understanding that the world should work that way too.” Respecting those differences and those differences is something that shows today are trying to work with in a positive way and with good results.”
Of course, the quality of the series and the way it presents the characters and situations is extremely important. In any case, it’s an idea shared by Sarah Gomez Coco ( @cocconutsarah ), a psychologist specializing in crisis and trauma intervention and LGBTQI+ affirmative therapy.
“What impact can an animated series have on the development of a boy or girl’s mind?” I think that by exposing them to different concepts, it helps them create an idea of what the world is like through fantasy,” says the psychologist. “This content can be the first reference to topic X, or it can serve as a reference to maintain and normalize something that already exists in its environment. In the case of LGBTQI+ couples, it exposes them to imagining love in different ways and validating interest if it already exists.”
The impact of progressive trends
In this new generation of cartoons many programs appear that not only try to include LGBT community, but also to persons who are part of other minorities or have a different way of life in order to reflect the diversity of today’s world. Some of these programs do an excellent job, but not all do. However, both successful and unsuccessful attempts leave an impression.
“The only thing that comes to mind so far is to create misinformation depending on how it is approached (both cartoons and parents and their environment) and the lack of visibility for some members of the collective as some experiences are less taboo than others. ,” says Gómez Coco about series that don’t know how to handle these elements. “Children and adolescents are also people who, although at earlier stages of development, are also experiencing life and have the same right to relevant and age-appropriate information about everything to do with sexuality. To deprive them of the opportunity to get to know the world better, to be more tolerant, understanding and perhaps to accept themselves, means to deprive them of basic social skills so that they can coexist in society and be happy.”
“They can have a positive impact if that representation is adequate,” Valenzuela suggests. “That is, if the representation of LGBT people in series and films is done correctly, according to what is the reality that these people from the community are just normal people, then it will have a positive effect on the life of the child, because he will understand that people who are also sexually diverse can also be good people. Now, if this representation is negative, that is, if only the people of LGBT community such as what are villains, thieves, people who end up sick or people who end up killed or killed because the child will have an idea that these LGBT or sexually diverse people will be that in life, they will end up such as villains, criminals, people who die sick, etc.”.
These examples, where a character belonging to the LGB community is portrayed in a negative way, can have a harmful effect on young people who also belong to this community, because it will be more difficult for them to accept themselves, as as they will not want to be associated with characters with a negative connotation.
Another reason why turn on of these topics in cartoons finds so much rejection and is considered a controversial trend due to the fear that this content is too sexual for a child audience, but this is another detail that is more complicated than it seems at first glance.
“I understand that with movies, what you’re trying to do with turn on and the presentation is to present that the dynamic of couples is normal and natural and that sexuality is also natural in the human being,” says Valenzuela. “Logically, the content should be adapted to each age of the patient, but the fact that two people of the same sex kiss or hold hands or are presented as a couple is not sexualization, it is not a way to sexualize a child, nothing in common with this”.
“At least in the cartoons I’ve seen, the theme is included, it’s done from the point of view of ‘ah, they love each other, they’re a couple’ or ‘ah, it’s possible to like girls and you’re a girl’, not necessarily to is something directly sexual,” explains González Coco. “Now, depending on what stage of development they’re at, obviously different topics need to be touched on in different ways for a child to understand them. Unfortunately, many times people associate every issue related to the group and the group itself with sexual perversion, when really the one has nothing to do with the other.
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