In 1988, a team of researchers conducted a study on children’s relationship with action cartoons. The team consisted of Sue Chambers, Nicki Karet and Neil Samson. 60 children between ages five to nine years old were shown clips from a range of 12 different ation cartoons. Each clip lasted between two to six minutes.
Children’s favourite cartoons are ones containing humour, especially slapstick comedy. They are less keen on ‘action’ cartoons because they get less out of them (Chambers et al., 1998, p. 11).
Action cartoons were found more popular with boys. Younger girls, generally speaking, appeared to find them scary, whereas older girls found them boring. The exception was Jumanji (1996-1999, Adeleide Productions), arguably because it featured a strong female character, along with an ongoing storyline which gave it more meaning.
The study found that mothers tended to be particularly concerned with cartoons that featured animated people as they thought these had greater potential to confuse ad disturb their children. Children’s preferences generally tended to contain funny, bright and colourful imagery, with exciting and likable characters (pp. 11-25). I suppose a combination of all these could be what causes a character to be idolized.
The study found that the younger children would take in present information when watching cartoons. They would pay more attention to images and music than to the text or the storyline, and would not listen to long sessions of dialogue. Older children had more life experience, and were therefore more likely to relate the cartoons’ stories to real life. This would cause unease when watching realistic characters, or storylines similar to their own lives (p. 41).