When Canadian-Ghanaian animator Gemma Gariba remembers his childhood, he remembers watching TV cartoons in the 1990s. Captain Planet and the Planets, about a solid team of super environmentalists logo from “The power is yours!” Urge a new generation of children to defend the Earth.
“Even at that time, when I was a kid, I realized that it was perfectly normal to care about where you live and the place that constantly looks after you,” Gariba said.
Now, Gariba is the creator and illustrator of an upcoming TV series from CBC Kids called big blue, a quirky sci-fi animated film that follows a crew of young men aboard a submarine, to explore the ocean’s natural wonders. Their aquatic adventures teach them teamwork, family, and the protection of planet Earth.
big blue It is one case of children’s programming turning green, as broadcasters around the world search for content for children to keep them entertained while informing them – and their parents – about climate change. Fart jokes and climate awareness are two equally important parts of the package.
“I thought filling the space of hope was a fun and interesting way to engage with the climate conversation,” Gariba said, as a cure for what he calls coverage of the climate crisis “gloom and doom.”
Experts say the intent of this type of programming is to keep the content age appropriate without keeping kids in the dark.
Children worried about the fate of the planet
Over the tail of the COP26 global climate conference, where world leaders gathered to discuss rising emissions, environmental conservation and a unified approach to combating climate change, it’s no wonder children are feeling the heat.
a study Conducted by Cartoon Network last summer, 91% of 4,000 children surveyed in Europe, the Middle East and Africa are concerned about climate change.
A group of 6- to 12-year-olds expressed anxiety, fear and sadness as common emotional responses to the topic, with 83 percent saying they wanted to do more to protect the planet and the environment.
Because a lot of children’s media is animated, and this type of content spends years producing, we are only now seeing the fruits of creators who were inspired by the youth-led global climate protests in 2018 and 2019, said Colin Russo-Johnson, co-founder of the Children’s Media Lab. Ryerson University in Toronto.
“I think that was really the moment a few years ago when people started to realize that this is a topic on children’s minds, that it’s a topic that causes them a lot of stress,” said Russo-Johnson.
Watch | Gemma Gariba and Colin Russo Johnson talk about climate-friendly content for children:
Just five years ago, the frank discussion of climate change was largely untreated In children’s television, even among series with environmental themes. Several shows have approached the topic by toning it down, not wanting to confuse their small audience with the details.
Russo-Johnson said there are two common schools of thought when it comes to tackling climate change for younger viewers: Some believe that avoiding the topic altogether will save children undue anxiety. Others believe that the subject is, by its very nature, completely inevitable.
“It’s a different time. They’re getting these messages [about climate change]”The question is what do we do about it? We don’t want to be content with giving children messages of doom and gloom,” said Russo Johnson.
“We need solutions that enable children to be part of the solution and enable them to feel that they have a voice and a way to make a difference.”
Broadcasters around the world broadcast child-friendly climate content
From South Africa to the UK, children’s television programs tackle the climate crisis, imbuing a serious topic with youthful energy, colorful scenery and good humor.
IsoraThe animated television series from Cape Town-based production company Lucan tells the story of a young girl from a fishing village in Mozambique who can breathe underwater and fight to protect her beloved surroundings from harm. in a ObkiA show from British broadcaster Sky, the journey of two beloved aliens to Earth, learn that small changes can make a big difference along the way.
new Octonauts Spinoff, which brings the crew of sea-bound animal explorers to land, is now streaming on Netflix, providing an even greater focus on climate change.
Cartoon Network has launched a multi-language, multi-platform campaign to educate its young audience about the climate crisis. Another CBC show for young children and teens, the endings, set 20 years in the future and follows a group of adopted children tasked with caring for the universe’s last living elephant. Lots of other offers In sight.
Watch | Trailer for the South African animated series Isaura:
according to Reports Through the industry publication Kidscreen, broadcasters from PBS to BBC to ABC Australia actively follow content that addresses children’s environmental concerns.
As Russo Johnson notes, content aimed at young children differs from content directed at teenagers. For the former demographic, the first step is to create a basic appreciation of the environment and how the planet works. She said using the planet as a point of common interest is an effective way to teach children the importance of unity.
“When you kind of teach them, as they get older in their school years, about the problems we have, they will have a reason to care because, of course, they want to protect the planet that they have grown on love [during] preschool years. “
But the children’s media industry faces a tough task: How can these shows convey the urgency of the climate crisis without compromising entertaining stories and lovable characters? “Conscious and proactive storytelling” with an authentic voice is key, says Mary McCann, director of children’s content for CBC Kids.
In a string written as big blue, where we got two little heroes, who were basically on the hero’s journey. McCann said they are looking for the hero and not killing dragons or other humans. “They are there to save a planet and take care of each other and take care of other beings on the planet.”
Parents have a lot to learn too
Gariba notices that big blue Turn the ecological paradigm on its head by making Bacon Berry, the younger sister of the two main protagonists, the perfect setting for Mother Nature. Instead of the character being a motherly character who cares about everyone around her, the others have to look out for Bacon Berry.
It’s an analogy meant to teach kids independence – and more directly, that they have to take on a caring role when it comes to protecting the planet.
Watch | Colleen Russo Johnson discusses what children learn from TV:
When it comes to creating climate-sensitive content for children, McCann said there is no desire to “silence it.” Instead, CBC Kids is looking for shows that encourage their younger audience to use their own resources without relying on adults to solve the problem for them.
Indeed, since adults today have not grown up with the influx of environmental educational programs, Russo-Johnson said, they may not be aware as much as they think they are.
“We don’t want to talk to adults, but the fact is that they can benefit from hearing their children teach them, because these are complex topics. And if we divide it up for children, it will naturally be divided for parents as well.”
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