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New PTC Study: Cartoons Are No Laughing Matter

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New PTC Study: Cartoons Are No Laughing Matter

New PTC Study: Cartoons Are No Laughing Matter
Sex, Drugs and Profanity on Prime-time Animated Shows Kids Watch Most

Today, the PTC released its latest study, Cartoons Are No Laughing Matter, which exposes the shocking levels of adult content on prime-time animated programs on the cable networks most popular with viewers ages 12-17. While the problem of cartoon violence has been debated and discussed for generations, adult content like sex, profanity, and even drug use has been creeping into cartoons under the radar, and have now taken over some of the most popular programs with young viewers.
Nudity, references to pedophilia, masturbation, pornography… The so-called “creative” teams behind these shows seem to have made it their mission to shatter every remaining TV taboo. Unfortunately these Pied Pipers are dragging along hundreds of thousands of children on their journey into the sewer.
What’s even more troubling than the shocking level of adult material is the networks' abysmal failure to consistently apply accurate and consistent TV ratings to warn parents about the offensive content. PTC analysts found harsh profanity and graphic sexual depictions on TV-PG-rated programs. Cartoon Network failed to use the ratings system to warn parents about sexual content, suggestive dialogue and explicit language 100% of the time. We also discovered the networks are directly marketing adult entertainment products to kids during TV-PG programming, including R-rated movies, TV-MA shows and DVDs.
Major Findings:

  • Sex (680 instances) surpassed every form of violence (674 instances) in animated prime-time cable programming.
  • Sexual depictions included simulations or obscured scenes of sexual intercourse, pornography, masturbation, pedophilia and prostitution.
  • There were a total of 208 incidents relating to drugs, including cocaine, marijuana, crystal meth, psychedelics and alcohol. Eighty percent of the drug-related incidents were depictions of drug use rather than simply references.
  • The study identified 565 incidents of explicit language on shows rated TV-PG and TV-14. Twenty-seven percent of the uses of “f**k” and “sh*t” occurred on TV-PG programs.
Content Ratings
  • Eighty-five percent of the TV-PG shows and 64% of the TV-14 shows containing sexual content did not have an “S” descriptor warning parents of the program's explicit content.
  • Cartoon Network failed to use the ratings system to warn parents about sexual situations (S), suggestive dialogue (D) and coarse or crude language (L) 100% of the time.
  • TV-PG and TV-14 shows included advertisements for adult media, including TV-MA DVDs, TV-MA shows, and R-rated movies.
All R-rated movies that aired during the study period were advertised during TV-PG programs. This content in animated programming is too often overlooked or given a pass. That could be why animated programs feature with impunity content that would never be permitted on live-action programs. But parents are taking a great risk by overlooking such content. By trivializing or bringing humor to adult themes and situations, these animated programs may be contributing to an atmosphere in which children view the behavior they are seeing as somehow normative or even acceptable.
If you have young children still at home, this is important information for you to arm yourself with. If you have grandchildren, nephews, nieces…this is information you must share with your family and loved ones.
Click here to read the entire report, and please, consider helping the PTC produce more important research like this by making a contribution today. Our research and education efforts are only possible because of the generous support of members like you.
Read the study.
Watch video examples from the study.
Support PTC research and education.
Research studies about media's impact on kids.


@ThePTC Parents Television Council - 707 Wilshire Blvd Ste 2075 - Los Angeles, CA 90017
Phone: (213) 403-1300 - Fax: (213) 403-1301
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