'Teko Bou' from Thakur Mar Jhuli
'Teko Bou' from Thakur Mar Jhuli

“Once, there was a man who had two wives. The man used to love his second wife more because the first wife had no hair and was very ugly with dark skin. The second wife also used to hate her. One day, when the man went to the city on business, the second wife bullied her and the first wife decided to go and live in a jungle. On her way, she tended to some trees and the trees were pleased with her. Then she met a fortuneteller and he told her to dive into the water one time and go back to him. After she did that she got a head full of hair, her skin tone became fairer and she became pretty. She also got gifts from the fortuneteller and from the trees she helped before. She became very happy and went back to tell the second wife these things.

"The second wife was very shocked and jealous. So, she went to try that too even though she was already pretty. On her way, she didn’t help the trees, behaved rudely with them, and also for her greed she didn’t listen to the fortuneteller and dived a second time in the water. That’s why she became really ugly with no hair and dark skin. And she died in anguish. The first wife started to live a happy life with the man.”

Remember this story ‘Teko Bou’ from “Thakurmar Jhuli”? The most iconic Bengali children's literature. It is difficult to find a Bengali reader who does not know about this book or is not familiar with these fairy tales. Nowadays it’s also available animated. ‘Teko Bou’ is the only animated “Thakurmar Jhuli” story that got 68 million views YouTube.

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The real message of this story was to teach kids that jealousy, greed type of things are always bad. But by wanting to show that the animators forgot that they are being racist. Weren’t there any more good examples to reflect the real message? By this story, kids are learning the wrong description of being ugly and pretty. Just by having no hair and having dark skin doesn’t make you ugly. Your bad behaviour and attitude is the thing that makes you ugly from both inside and outside.

According to Oxford Advanced Learner Dictionary (1948), a cartoon is an amazing drawing in a newspaper or magazine, especially one that comments satirically on current events. Also, it defines animated cartoons as a film made by photographing a series of gradually changing drawings, giving an illusion of movement. What are cartoonists making children feel is fun and something to actually watch or read, even though there is nothing to learn except for procrastinating?

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Watching cartoons that depict violence will encourage kids to become violent in real world. Also, children could believe that nobody gets hurt or feels pain since cartoons escape unharmed after experiencing violence or an accident. As an example, characters in Tom and Jerry, The Road Runner, and Oggy and the Cockroaches typically hit one another or cause each other to fall from heights, typically without any real consequences. Yes, those “cute cartoon characters” can become monsters. The kids could become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others.

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Children who watch violence don't fear violence nor are they bothered by violence normally. The kids are more likely to become aggressive or use harmful actions towards others. They should know that a true hero isn't measured by the size of his strength, but by the strength of his heart.

Children often idolise their favorite cartoon characters and mimic them or aspire to be like them. Often, the object of their admiration could be a misleading role model who encourages the wrong habits or displays insensitive behavior towards fellow beings. This kind of impact of cartoons on children’s psychology can often lead to devastating consequences and result in children being withdrawn, uncommunicative, antisocial, or unruly.

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Once we are born we have the capability for motivation, experience, and training, and because of this, our minds are very impressionable. Therefore, our brains’ development is full of life mixture of nature and nurture, thus it's necessary to choose a healthy atmosphere for all kids. Therefore, our brains’ development is full of life mixture of nature and nurture, thus it's necessary to choose a healthy atmosphere for all kids.

Kids are like sponges. They absorb everything that's around them. A lot of where kids learn is from TV. Cartoons grab children’s attention, so nice that they may be watching TV for hours. This means cartoons with violence are going to be detrimental to a child because generally, being interactive with any the development enhances the event of a successful brain. As a result, an amazing quantity of childhood involvement with electronic media will limit social interaction and will obstruct the development of a brain’s social systems.

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Various studies shown that, children spend a total of about 13,000 hours in school from day one till graduation day. This seems like a very long time under which the influences of their teachers can be felt. However, within the same time frame, children spend a total of about 18,000 hours watching cartoons. This is more than enough time for cartoons to take their effect on the children’s brains, emotions, and senses to feel pain.

Too many hours of sitting in front of a screen watching cartoons can cause several health issues due to inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle. These include obesity, vision problems, and nutritional deficiencies due to bad food habits. Many parents find it convenient to feed children in front of the TV which is another root cause of unhealthy eating patterns.

In the past, cartoons for the most part had lessons and ways to engage children to learn while keeping them entertained. Now cartoons are having too little to no reflection. Children are not required to use their brains and think about how things work or learning new words or understanding the value of things. Cartoons seem to be a way to keep children quiet. With cartoons today there are no questions that could be asked because now just give them the answer. Older cartoons had children asking a number of questions the why this and how that and what makes this happen and what’s that: but now it’s nothing to ask or even to look forward to. Cartoons should bring families together so that children are being challenged more and have to use their minds to think and grow.

However, some cartoons promote creativity in children making them more exposed to information that was once unavailable to people their age. Parents should watch cartoons with their kids to ensure that they are also learning good things with also having fun. By doing that they can also explain the difference between cartoons and reality to their kids. Limiting the number of hours to watch TV could be also a good idea.

Anyone can watch cartoons. You are never too old to be young. And it’s also nothing bad. But it is up to you if you’re going to learn good things or ruin your life by getting the wrong message seriously. Always let your conscience be your guide.

Rumaiysa M Rahman is a 9th grader at Viqarunnisa Noon School and College, Dhaka.