A Parent's Guide to Apps with Cartoon or Fantasy Violence

Cartoon or fantasy violence
  1. Should You Be Concerned About Cartoon or Fantasy Violence in Mobile Apps?
    • We all remember how violent the old Warner Brothers cartoons were back in the day. Bugs Bunny was constantly beating Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd or any number of other characters over the head with giant mallets. Characters chased each other with axes. They ran off cliffs or smashed full-speed into brick walls. You saw all of this when you were a kid, and you didn’t turn into a violent adult.
    • In fact, you wouldn’t worry about showing these same cartoons to your own kids today. That’s why – when rating the appropriateness of mobile apps for kids – iTunes makes a distinction between cartoon or fantasy violence and realistic violence. Basically, the kind of cartoon violence you saw when you were a kid is still safe for your own kids because they won’t associate this kind of violence with their real lives.
    • There’s a distinct difference between seeing a cartoon rabbit smash a cartoon duck’s foot with a hammer and seeing a live-action video of a child being beaten. In the cartoon, the consequences of the overly exaggerated act are a few stars in the air and a character jumping around, yelling and screaming before deciding to take their comical revenge. That said, you should still pay attention to cartoon or fantasy violence in how it is portrayed, and you shouldn’t hesitate to talk to your child about what they’ve seen and how they feel about it.
  2. Exposing Young Children to Violence Can Be Damaging
    • First of all, if your child sees regular portrayals of realistic violence, they are very likely going to be desensitized to it. They won’t have the same empathetic reaction to seeing someone get hurt or to the horrors of real-life violence if they are taught from a very young age that this kind of action is just entertainment. The same kind of effects don’t necessarily happen when children are exposed to cartoon or fantasy violence, but it’s important to know how they feel about the images, cartoons, and videos that they see.
  3. Talking to Your Child about Violence in Mobile Apps
    • To find out how your child is taking in the cartoon violence they see in a mobile app, we recommend sitting down and talking to your child about what they see and feel when they use the app.
    • If you’ve seen some violence on the app, you might want to ask your child how they felt when they saw it, why it made them feel that way, and if they thought that kind of violence was okay in real life. Your child’s answers to these kinds of questions will tell you a lot about whether or not they’re ready for the content in the app.
    • For example, cartoon violence comes in a lot of different shapes and forms. If a cartoon is drawn to look very realistic, and it depicts characters being hurt or killed in a violent manner, it’s going to have a very different effect on your child than those old Warner Brothers cartoons. That’s why it’s a good idea never to just decide that an app is safe for your child to use based on its rating on iTunes or Google Play alone. You wouldn’t take your child to see a movie based solely on the fact that it has a PG rating, would you? Of course not – you’d want to know more about what you’re exposing your child to before you agree.
    • To get a better idea of how appropriate an app is, you may want to explore the app on your own and look at what kinds of images and content it shows, and, of course, if you don’t have the time to go through the app yourself, you can look it up in our app directory to see how it’s rated and what kinds of risks it poses.
  4. Look Up Apps in Advance
    • At the ages where these matter (usually 9 and under), we recommend looking up all apps before letting children install them. Regardless, you should check your child's device everyday for any new apps. If you find one, you may need to change the iTunes password or have a talk with your child. And you should look the app up here to know what your child may have been exposed to.