iconimg Monday, August 31, 2015

Mallica Joshi, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, October 07, 2012
A 10-year-old boy from a prominent south Delhi school rushes home after his football coaching at 4pm every day with only one thing on his mind - television. "I just can't miss The Simpsons. It's my favourite cartoon," says the class 5 student. For a number of children in the 8-14 age group, animated programmes, such as The Simpsons, Family Guy and South Park, are the most interesting things on TV. It's a trend that worries teachers and counsellors.

While The Simpsons is a satire on American lifestyle with instances of violence and sexual innuendo, Family Guy is full of foul language and sexual content. In South Park, violence, swearing and jokes about sexuality are common.

Yet, many parents are unable to draw the distinction between a cartoon show for children and an animated adult programme.

Shilpa Khatri, 37, woke up to the horror only when she sat through an episode of South Park with her 12-year-old daughter.

"I was appalled at the profanities and violence. I realise even shows like The Simpsons aren't appropriate for children," she says.

On commonsensemedia.org - a website that reviews media content for children - parents have rated the three shows as inappropriate for those under the age of 14. Some content has been rated as appropriate only for adults.

TV channels acknowledge the problem.

"While South Park is telecast after 11pm, and with an advisory, we are aware it enjoys a cult status among teenagers," says a senior official of Comedy Central channel.

Ameeta Wattal, principal of Springdales School, Pusa Road, calls for a check on TV content kids are exposed to.

"We regularly talk to students and parents about responsible TV viewing," she says.

Ishnita Keshar, counsellor at a boarding school in Mussoorie, says excessive violence and bad language can make children insensitive as they do not understand the distinction between reel and real life.