Study: SpongeBob Minds Absorb Less

Monday, the University of Virginia released its study findings that fast-paced cartoons such as, SpongeBob SquarePants slowed learning skills in four-year-old children.

Here’s a quick trivia question for parents. Who lives in a pineapple under the sea, and can slow learning abilities in four-year-old children? The answer is, SpongeBob SquarePants, according to a recent study conducted by the University of Virginia.

The University of Virginia study suggests that a mere nine minutes of tuning into the popular animated series, severely shortened the attention spans and learning skills in four-year-old children.

The study was conducted using 60 kids that were either assigned to watch nine minutes of the PBS cartoon series, “Caillou’’, draw pictures or watch SpongeBob and Patrick hang out at the Crusty Crab. Following the three randomly assigned activities, the children were then asked to take a mental function test. The kids that zoned out in front of Spongebob performed considerably worse than those that watched Caillou or drew a picture, according to study results.

So does general TV watching still rot your brain? Not really, says the the study’s authors. The problem with Spongebob and cartoons like Spongebob, is the fast pace, versus the slower speed of Caillou-although I personally have never cared for Caillou’s attitude. What is most alarming is the short span of time Spongebob viewing can affect your child’s focus or learning ability. Hmm, maybe that is why Patrick Star is not the most intelligent Echinodermata in Bikini Bottom.

Nickelodeon officials were quick to point out that SpongeBob’s viewing audience has always been aimed at kids 6 to 11-years-old. True, but try explaining how you are going to split up cartoon time when you have older siblings in your household.

Lisa Cooper September 14, 2011 at 02:47 PM
Early on during the school year I always had students monitor their time during the afternoon and evening over a week's time. Nine times out of ten students discovered a large majority of time was spent watching mindless cartoons.....no brain stimulation and no movement other than to reach for the remote. I usually provided our findings to parents at our first conference. Most were shocked at the amount of time devoted to TV. Balance is the key and parents need to monitor the amount time spent watching the boob tube - what detractors called TV back in MY day and unfortunately without balance the name still fits. However, I will say that my favorite SB character is Gary the snail. :)


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