It's been several generations now since parents began to look to their televisions to occupy their children. While this isn't an ideal setup it does serve a purpose, at least in keeping children busy and entertained for a certain amount of time. Early cartoons made an attempt to teach children some hint of morality as well fundamental learning concepts, but they were still geared more toward entertainment and came and went so often that it was difficult to keep up with the changing programs.
Today's shows have at least some sense of permanence but have changed a great deal since the cartoons and live shows of the past. Networks such as Nickelodeon and the Disney channel showcased programs like "Hey Dude," "Count Duckula," the "Mickey Mouse Club" and even "Kids Incorporated."
Such programs were often geared toward teaching children how to behave properly but didn't often focus on fundamentals, opting instead to depict fun and engaging scenes so as to entertain children.
In today's shows, that has changed. Nickelodeon programs still teach the value of morality and ethical conduct, though the Disney channel has taken to inundating children with the fundamental learning concepts that will help them later in life such as reading, arithmetic, and other disciplines.
Shows such as "The Octonauts," "Doc McStuffins" and "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" cover a range of learning materials that children can enjoy and learn from. Shows that feature on Nickelodeon such as "Spongebob Squarepants," "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and "Alvin and the Chipmunks" are largely for entertainment purposes. They do, however, show the importance of behavior and morality, though with less fervor than the Disney channel promotes.
When it comes to live action shows, both channels are equally geared toward entertainment, as the fundamentals are at that point no longer considered to be as important. This makes sense considering that the time slots featuring live action shows are generally considered to be times when younger children are no longer engaged in television and have gone to play or to school. On select days cartoons will run for far longer, either to fill the time slots or to cater to younger children who are not yet school-bound and must be kept busy. On such days the exposure to such shows can be a great help if a parent or guardian can explain to the child the importance of the lessons being taught.
While the lessons are indeed valuable, the entertainment factor that goes with them can be a detriment. Children do not always consider learning the desired outcome of a cartoon. But through guidance and immersion into the show children can in fact learn from their favorite cartoons. Cartoons have changed a great deal since the inception of television, and while it is not advisable to allow a child to spend all day in front of the TV, the Disney channel and Nickelodeon are by far among the least harmful channels.