That children love cartoons is an indisputable fact. Babies are drawn to colors and movement. Even very young children early on learn to recognize the representations of familiar objects and expressions reflected in the artwork. While written words are the domain of the conscious, reasoning, and learned mind, cartoon pictures are the domain of the unconscious mind, implanting an image and telling a story without language. This is why cartoon images speak to humans throughout childhood and adulthood as a form of universal language, one understood by all, regardless of education or culture.
Children, and often adults, are unaware of the many dangers that surround them, both major and minor. A young child hasn’t yet learned that chasing a ball into the street or inserting an object into an electrical outlet may have deadly consequences. Too often an adult doesn’t think to share this wisdom until it’s too late, or hasn’t shared it in a way that has entirely sunk in to curious and easily excitable young minds. An adult may not have the experience to know that lifting a heavy load in the wrong way might result in painful injury, or may have heard about it but doesn’t think about it before an injury results. Both children and adults benefit from the knowledge and reminders of what to do in case of choking or fire, or to wash their hands frequently to help avoid and spread disease.
Parents, educators, and employers can talk endlessly about health and safety only to have those words bounce off their targets ineffectively. Words, whether written or spoken, have limited reach. In today’s diverse society, there’s no guarantee that words spoken in one language are even understood by those who don’t share the native tongue. This is where cartoon images come into importance. Images that tell a story visually that are implanted into the subconscious mind have been shown the world over to be very effective at communicating concepts quickly in a way that is understood and remembered.
Health and safety cartoons also attract attention in a way that written signs never will. For example, if a homeowner wants to warn visitors of the presence of an aggressive dog, which is more effective: a sign simply saying “Beware of Dog” or a picture of Cujo with fangs dripping? This is the power of image. Using fun, colorful, descriptive cartoons in the home, school, and workplace will both teach and remind children and adults the importance of paying attention to the dangers that surround them to help ensure the health and safety of all.