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10 Cartoons that are Surprisingly Educational
November 25, 2011 | in Babysitting Jobs, Sitters
You don’t typically think of cartoons as educational, unless they’re on PBS or something similar. But popular cartoons can have surprising messages for kids. Do you know what messages your children’s cartoons are teaching?
- SpongeBob Squarepants – Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? If you’ve watched any of this cartoon, you know the answer to that question. But did you know that SpongeBob was created by a marine biologist? Yes, that’s right. Not only are the sea creatures semi-accurate (besides their ability to act like people), but this show also has the most realistic depictions of real relationships I’ve ever seen in a cartoon. It has harsh bosses, dads who love their daughters, neighbors who don’t get along, competitive co-workers, and best friends that need a little help sometimes. The only thing that’s missing is romance, but that’s something I think kids can do without learning about for a while longer. SpongeBob is a decent role model. He’s responsible, goes to work every day, loves his job, and respects his boss. Sure, the story lines are goofy, but why else would kids watch it?
- Scooby Doo – They’ve toned down this cartoon from the old days, so don’t worry. Smoke no longer comes pouring out of the ‘Mystery Machine’ and Shaggy and Scooby don’t complain of the ‘munchies’ quite as much. Scooby Doo actually has a decent message. For kids that are scared of monsters and things that go bump in the night, having a group to debunk the mystery and reveal the people underneath could be just what the doctor ordered.
- Ben 10 – As a kid, didn’t you ever dream of turning into Superman or the Hulk? Well, Ben 10 can turn into ten (or more) powerful aliens with all kinds of powers. But what’s the lesson here? Find an alien watch and get superpowers? No, actually it is all about making wise, responsible decisions. Ben has a limited amount of time and a limited amount of creatures he can turn into each day, so he has to make each one count. He has to decide if he needs brains or brawn, speed or stealth. And he also has to use his time wisely. No showing off or fooling around, he has to get things done. Like any kid, he has trouble with this, and he has to suffer when he makes the wrong decisions. Not a bad lesson for kids to learn.
- Ed, Edd, N Eddy – The tale of three friends with the same name, this show is actually a satire of the capitalistic mentality. What in the world am I talking about? Well, Ed, the ringleader, is always in pursuit of money to buy bigger and better jawbreakers. He uses Edd’s smarts and Eddy’s brawn to cook up schemes to rip off the other neighborhood children. Doesn’t sound like a great message, right? Well, no, but it is one kids need to learn. Other kids and adults will try to exploit them. Better to learn from a cartoon than losing their lunch money to an enterprising Tom Sawyer type.
- Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends – A bit preachy, this show is all about everyone having a place in the world. The imaginary friends are orphans, looking for their next human to love them. They are an odd bunch of monsters with definite personalities. However, the show does give kids hope that no matter how weird they feel, there is a friend out there for them.
- Tom and Jerry – What can this chase cartoon teach kids? Persistence. No matter how many times Tom fails to catch Jerry, he still tries again. Jerry, too, outwits Tom at every turn even though Tom is faster, stronger, and bigger than him. Brains over brawn anyone?
- Kim Possible – For all those girls that struggle between wanting to be girly and wanting to be tough, this is the role model. She’s a cheerleader and a karate black-belt hero, with no real superpowers beyond her cool gadgets. The James Bond of teenage girls, Kim also has her sidekick, Ron, along for backup. Her biggest problem isn’t the bad guys; it’s her crazy twin brothers, her mad scientist dad, and her doctor mom. Juggling her family responsibilities and school extra-curriculars with a super-hero’s schedule is tough, but she still makes time to get all her homework done.
- Fairly Oddparents – Ever hear ‘be careful what you wish for’? Well, this is the show that takes that to the extreme. Timmy has a pair of fairy godparents to grant his every wish and he learns to be very careful about what he wishes for. If anyone finds out he has the fairies, they will be taken away. This is made twice as hard by nosy parents, evil babysitters, and a teacher that’s obsessed with proving fairies exist. The message here, though, is responsibility and appreciating people instead of the things they give you.
- Jimmy Neutron – A boy genius with a robotic dog. What could go wrong? Well, no matter how smart Jimmy is, he learns he’s never as wise as his parents are. Yes, you read that right, this show is about respecting your parents. If you’ve got a kid that thinks he knows everything, you might want to have him watch this show. Jimmy does, actually, know everything, but listening to his mom would sure save him a lot of trouble in the long run.
- Phineas and Ferb – Productivity. This cartoon’s motto is ‘what are we going to build today?’ Instead of wasting their summer, Phineas and Ferb, two brothers, build great inventions in their backyard. The inventions are always huge and silly, but the brothers are sure to make it fun for all the neighborhood kids, and even kids around the world. They try to solve real problems in a fun way, and they still love their older sister, despite the fact that she’s a stick-in-the-mud and always trying to get them in trouble.
All cartoons have a message; you just have to watch them to find out what it is. Your kids will pick up on it, so be aware of what they are watching. However, just because it looks silly doesn’t mean it’s bad. Take some time to sit with your kids and find out what the cartoon makes them think about. You might be surprised at what you’ll be encouraging them to watch next.← 10 Baby Products from the 70’s That are Now Taboo | 10 Gift Ideas that Any Kid Can Make →
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