But when it comes to how they affect children, that doesn’t seem to really matter.
Studies have indicated that children are emotionally responsive to cartoons (no surprise to parents there) and cartoon violence and exposure to violent cartoons are associated with increased aggression in kids*.
Now I watched a lot of Road Runner and I haven’t once blown anyone up with dynamite or caused them to run off a cliff and fall until they were a mere puff of dust so we have to be careful about overhyping the ‘dangers’. But I guess the thing with our own experiences is that we don’t have a proper test scenario. We don’t have a control. We can’t fall back on the “well, it didn’t do me any harm” thing because we can’t possibly know just what parts of our personality, reactions or world view were affected (even if in a very small way) by what we’ve watched.
That is, unless you’re a twin and you watched violent cartoons and your twin didn’t.
I don’t have a twin.
The good news in that is that, just as some cartoons can have a negative effect, we can (and do) work to make a positive contribution. Good content is key.
But it seems the old ‘only a cartoon’ thing isn’t backed up in tests.
*Cline, Croft & Courier, 1973; Osborn & Endsley, 1971; Ellis & Sekyra, 1972; Hapkiewitz & Roden, 1971; Lovaas, 1961; Mussen & Rutherford, 1961; Ross, 1972.