What Are Your Children Watching? A DPICS-II Analysis Of Parent-Child Interactions In Television Cartoons
Type of DegreeDissertation
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The immense proliferation of cartoons on television provides children with a variety of cartoon models, many engaging in family life. The purpose of this study was to conduct a content analysis on parent-child interactions in family-oriented cartoons using the Cartoon DPICS. Twenty-eight parent-child cartoon dyads were identified cartoons across 23 broadcast and cable channels and 2.5 minute segments of parent-child interactions were coded using Cartoon DPICS. Parent cartoon characters displayed significantly more prosocial behavior than child characters. Parent cartoon characters did not differ from children cartoon characters in the frequency of inappropriate behavior. Father cartoon characters displayed a higher frequency of both prosocial behavior and inappropriate behavior than did mother cartoon characters. Son and daughter characters did not differ significantly in the frequency of prosocial behavior or inappropriate behavior depicted in the cartoons. The ratio of prosocial behavior to inappropriate behavior varied across individual cartoons and networks. The findings of this study confirm the importance of parents scrutinizing their children’s cartoon programs, because not all family-oriented cartoons are “family friendly.” The results also provide support for professionals to explore children’s television viewing habits to gain an understanding of social messages young viewers observe in their favorite programs. Given the shortcomings of the television rating codes and V-chips, the Cartoon DPICS was a reliable tool to evaluate and rate the content of children’s cartoons systematically and without bias.