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Does SpongeBob SquarePants Cause Learning Problems and Short-Term Attention Span in Young Kids?

According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, the cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants may cause 4-year-old to develop short-term attention and learning difficulties. The findings come from an observation of 60 children assigned at random to watch “SpongeBob,” the carton “Caillou,” or draw pictures for nine minutes. Kids were tested for their mental functions after this. The ones that had been assigned to watch “SpongeBob” performed the worst, scoring on average about 12 points less than the other children. The kids in the other group received nearly the same scores. Also, When tested for impulsiveness and self-control, the kids who watched “Sponge Bob” that were shown snacks were only able to wait about 2 ½ minutes before eating them while the other kids were able to wait about four minutes.
Researchers say that considering that cartoons usually run about 22 minutes, if watching SpongeBob is impairing children’s attention then watching the entire show could prove “more detrimental.” They did, however, say that more evidence is required to verify these concerns.
In response to the study, Nickelodeon spokesperson David Bittler noted that “SpongeBob” is geared toward kids in the 6-11 age group and not 4 year olds. The lead author of the study, University of Virginia psychology professor Angeline Lillard, however, said that kids age 4 were selected because this is the age group when the most development occurs.
Lillard, says that “SpongeBob” isn’t the only program that could be cause for parental concern. She reported similar problems with children that watched other cartoons that were fast-paced. She is advising that kids not be allowed to watch these shows whenever they are supposed to learn or pay attention.
It was just four years ago that a study, also published in the Journal of Pediatrics, raised concerns that for every hour of the day that kids in the 8-16 month age group watched educational “Baby Einstein” videos, they ended up with 6-8 less words in their vocabulary than other children the same age. This finding is obviously not what parents who let their kids watch these videos want for them. Also, Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development director Dr. Dimitri Christakis at the University of Washington in Seattle has said that bombarding a child’s brain, which is still developing, with too much stimulation can affect his/her ability to learn how to focus correctly.
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Our products liability law firm knows how upsetting it can be to find out that you’ve inadvertently exposed your child to a danger that caused them to get hurt. We help families throughout the US recover child injury compensation from negligent manufacturers, sellers, and distributors.
SpongeBob study: Do fast-paced cartoons impair kids’ thinking?, Christian Science Monitor, September 12, 2011
Study: Some cartoons are bad for children’s brains, CNN, September 12, 2011
Study faults ‘Einstein’ videos for infants, Boston.com, August 8, 2007

Related Web Resources:
Pediatrics
Sponge Bob
Baby Einstein

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