Should cartoons push the vaccine debate?

Katherine - posted on 04/02/2011 ( 10 moms have responded )

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My kids watch TV while I'm working, and while I usually tune it out, sometimes I hear certain words that grab my attention. Lately I heard "fight the flu", "flu vaccinations" and "naturopathy." Okay.



I suppose some children's show writers took it upon themselves to discuss health with the kids, but with a wide discrepancies in messages from different shows. Sid the Science Kid, Elmo, and Curious George all have some very different opinions on how to handle illness, and some parents aren't fans.



An episode of Curious George called "Monkey Fever" ended with a bit about naturopathy, specifically, Dr. Shiva Barton who mentions oregano as an herb used for thousands of years "seems to be helpful in fighting germs.", Kids were shown a few pressure points and were told that "sometimes it helps" to rub them for tummy aches. A lot of parents felt it was a slap to western medicine. You can check out the 'YouTomb" video titled Curious George endorses ineffective and potentially harmful pseudoscience to children for more on that. Yikes.



On the complete opposite side is an entire episode of Sid the Science Kid called "Getting a Shot: You can do it!" that was done in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to convince the audience (kids) that the flu vaccine is completely necessary. Not surprisingly, there were strong reactions -- some called Sid a Vaccine Hero and others said it was just flat out wrong to try to convince children of a message that is way beyond their grasp and totally the parent's decision.



But in the middle is cute fuzzy Elmo with buddy Gordon, who combated the H1N1 flu virus specifically with hand washing. Elmo took the route that everyone can agree on, that is age-appropriate for children which talks about sneezing into the elbow, not touching your face, and washing up. Despite being ended with promotion of the CDC, Elmo has received little to no criticism.



Do you think it's appropriate to push anything parental decisions on small children, or should they stick to general basic good habits, like Elmo?

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Dana - posted on 04/02/2011

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Personally I'd like to see this episode:"On the complete opposite side is an entire episode of Sid the Science Kid called "Getting a Shot: You can do it!" that was done in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to convince the audience (kids) that the flu vaccine is completely necessary."

My son watches Sid the Science Kid and I've never seen them push anything like that. If it's a show on how they shouldn't be afraid of shots and going to the doctor's office, that's a different story. I grew up with similar "lessons" from cartoons or cartoon posters.

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Nikki - posted on 04/02/2011

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I like the hygiene lessons that some kids shows have but while I am pro vax I don't agree with adding this kind of content into cartoons. Even if the content enables children to ask questions it's still the parents decision (unfortunately) so it could be viewed as a bit of a scare tactic. If vaccinations were mandatory across the board, then maybe?

Jayce - posted on 04/02/2011

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I'm going to have to agree with everyone else. Leave the politics out of kids shows. I love that they teach handwashing and good eating habits (my son's more likely to listen to Captain Carlos than I am when it comes to eating right) but vaccines aren't in their control. Those are parent decisions to make, not the child's.

Stifler's - posted on 04/02/2011

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NO. I hate politics in kids shows. They don't get to call the shots on whether I vaccinate them or not. handwashing, great. Necessary life skill. Unless they're going to explain pathophysiology to my kid.... leave the vaccinations out of it. Because I don't want to explain that to my 3 year old.

Lady Heather - posted on 04/02/2011

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I'm all for the handwashing. We don't get flu shots around here. Nobody ever seems to have the flu so it all seems kind of pointless. I agree with teaching the basics of good hygiene and health and leave the complicated matters up to the parents.

Becky - posted on 04/02/2011

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I don't have a problem with kid's shows doing some education about good hygiene and how to prevent spreading illness. And even teaching about vaccinations, to a point. I don't think they should be trying to convince kids that vaccinations are an absolute necessity and scaring them into thinking they're going to die or something if they don't get them, of course, but teaching kids about why they are important and how they can help keep you healthy, yeah, I'm all for that. A lot of children are terrified of getting shots, and don't understand why they have to. So having a cartoon character get shots and explain that they do it because it helps keep them healthy, I can see that making it easier on a lot of kids.
I'm not crazy about the idea of teaching about herbal remedies for the same reason Teresa said. A young child doesn't know the difference between oregano and stink weed, or whatever. I don't want my kids pulling things out of the ground and eating them because they think it'll keep them healthy.

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Cartoons should not convince kids of things that are entirely w/in their parents control. Hand washing, exercise, eating good foods, getting enough sleep, etc.... Yes, promote that definitely. But getting a flu shot? What if the parents are against flu shots (like I am)? Are the kids now going to think that Mommy or Daddy don't love them enough to get them a flu shot? Or on the herbs thing.... what if the kid goes and tries to 'self medicate' out in the weeds and ends up eating some poisonous plant.....



As Jenny said, this wouldn't have an impact on MY kids, as we only have videos/dvds to watch. I'm just concerned about other impressionable toddlers/preschoolers.

Jenny - posted on 04/02/2011

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My kids don't watch much TV so it doesn't dictate what they are learning.

Katherine - posted on 04/02/2011

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I think teaching good hand washing is great and I am kind of for this teaching why they should have their shots. What about you?

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