Dangers of Animated Programs
Special Report - August 29, 2011
Children and teens watching today’s most popular animated programming on cable are consuming large doses of sexual content, explicit drug use, and profanity along with their cartoons, according to a new report from the Parents Television Council (PTC). The study entitled, “Cartoons Are No Laughing Matter: Sex, Drugs and Profanity on Primetime Animated Programs,” examined the most popular animated programs that young viewers between the ages of 12 and 17 are watching on basic and expanded cable, according to data from Nielsen Media Research. Networks that were identified in the study as being the most watched by young viewers included Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, Nick at Nite, and Adult Swim (both Disney Channel and Nick at Nite received a grade of “A” from the PTC in the study, while Cartoon Network and Adult Swim both received a grade of “F”). The study found that “sexual content, explicit drug use and profanity are fully integrated into today’s Primetime animated cable programs. Not only is the content integrated, it is appearing in large quantities for children and teens to consume.” Most disturbing is the fact that many of these animated programs aired before 9 PM eastern/8 PM central, when many children and teens are more likely to be watching.
“PTC analysts followed the Nielsen data in order to see exactly what type of material kids are consuming,” said PTC President Tim Winter in a statement. “The findings of this report should be vexing for every parent. The term ‘adult’ not only describes the nature of the cartoon content itself; it also describes the products being marketed to kids.”
Specifically, PTC researchers identified 1,487 incidents of “adult content” (sex, drugs and profanity) on the programs included in the study, such as “Family Guy,” “American Dad,” and “King of the Hill.” On average, the study found that children and teens ages 12 to 17 are exposed to adult content in the animated cable programs they are watching every two minutes and 19 seconds.
Of the all the incidents of adult content identified in the PTC study, there were:
- 680 instances of sexual content, with the amount of sexual content far exceeding the amount of violence in the programming;
- 565 instances of explicit language in TV-PG and TV-14 programs;
- 208 instances of explicit drug use, with 80 percent of drug-related content involving depictions of drug use (not just references).
The PTC report includes a number of suggestions, including that all cable and satellite subscribers be given the opportunity to choose and pay for only the channels they want to watch. It also calls for “sweeping reform” in the current content rating system.
“Adult content isn’t just creeping into the cartoons that kids today are watching the most; it has overtaken much of that animated programming. We’re not talking about cartoon characters slipping on banana peels and ramming into doors. Our data demonstrates that today’s norm is profanity-laden storylines involving everything from rape and cocaine to STDs and Crystal Meth,” added Winter. “Parents need to understand just how explicit these cartoons are so they can make better viewing decisions for their family. They also must be given the chance to unsubscribe to explicit cable networks. As it stands now, every parent who subscribes to cable so their kids can watch Disney or Nickelodeon is also forking over cash every month to Adult Swim. Parents, not cable companies, should decide which cable networks they want to pay for.”
Sexualization Of Teen Girls - December 28, 2010
TV Violence Against Women Increases - November 9, 2009
Offensive Content on Popular Online Video Site - December 31, 2008
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