How cartoons enable children’s narrative skills and values

A study by the UPV/EHU’s Department of Evolutionary Psychology and Education has explored the validity of narrative and non-narrative cartoons for developing narrative skills, moral reasoning and values and countervalues in children in mainstream and non-mainstream education. The effect that may be exerted by the structure of the cartoons on these aspects when the children process the information was investigated.

Media consumption by schoolchildren in the third year (8-9 year-olds) and sixth year (11-12 year-olds) of primary education, their narrative skills and the perceptions they have about the values and countervailed of the cartoons was explored by the Department of Evolutionary Psychology and Education of the UPV/EHU’s Faculty of Education, Philosophy and Anthropology. The research was conducted in various phases divided into two subcategories.

Firstly, the use that schoolchildren make of various devices, the Internet in particular, as well as the support and control strategies used by their parents, the positive and negative conceptions parents have about the use, difficulties and challenges they face when mediating in their use were identified. The aim of this section was to adapt the mediation programmes on the basis of the actual situation of families, schools and society.

Secondly, various tests were conducted to delve further into the interpretation and decoding that the schoolchildren carry out on the messages transmitted by the fictional content of the cartoons. These tests revealed that the type of narrative or non-narrative structure that characterises the cartoons affects the reception, processing, comprehension, memory and what the messages conjure up, in terms of narrative skills and perception of values/countervalues, of 8-12-year-old children.

“The narrative cartoons we analysed have the same structure as classical stories (introduction, core and denouement). The thread can be easily followed. In the non-narrative cartoons we analysed, the events do not take place in the same context, the characters jump continually from an everyday atmosphere to another virtual one, and the individual watching has difficulty understanding the reasons and outcomes of the events. What is more, in the latter, clinchers are used continually,” explained UPV/EHU researcher Eider Oregui.

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