Cartoons Can Damage Your Health

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TOKYO: Imagine sitting your three-year-old child in front of Nickelodeon, and returning half an hour later to find him in epileptic convulsions caused by a cartoon. Well, that's what happened to 729 children in Japan Wednesday when the latest episode of Nintendo's "Pocket Monsters" aired on TV Tokyo. More than a hundred kids were still in hospital Thursday night.

The network has called in doctors, psychologists and animation experts to find out what turned a cartoon into a health hazard. What's curious is the seizures all took place about 20 minutes into the half-hour show, around the time one of the characters, the rat-like Pikachu, flashed five seconds of red lights from his eyes. That's when the fire service and TV station was inundated with calls from parents out of their minds with worry. "We believe there may have been problems with presentation and production technique," sniffed TV Tokyo's programming division manager.

No kidding. But the prospect of a cartoon show that's bad for your child's health will only serve to give American parents one more thing to worry about. At the very least, they can use a more somber and convincing tone when next delivering the standard line that "television will rot your brain."