'SpongeBob' impairs little kids' thinking, UVa. study suggests
Watching just a short bit of the wildly popular kids TV show "SpongeBob SquarePants" has been known to give many parents headaches. Psychologists have now found that a brief exposure to SpongeBob, Patrick, Squidward and the rest of the crew also appears to dampen preschoolers' brain power.
Angeline Lillard and Jennifer Peterson, both of the University of Virginia's department of psychology, wanted to see whether watching fast-paced television had an immediate influence on kids' executive function — skills including attention, working memory, problem solving and delay of gratification that are associated with success in school.
Television's negative effect on executive function over the long term has been established, the researchers wrote Monday in the journal Pediatrics, but less is known about its immediate effects.
To test what those might be, Lillard and Peterson randomly assigned 60 4-year-olds to three groups: one that watched nine minutes of a fast-paced, "very popular fantastical cartoon about an animated sponge that lives under the sea;" one that watched nine minutes of slower-paced programming from a PBS show "about a typical U.S. preschool-aged boy;" and a third group that was asked to draw for nine minutes with markers and crayons.
Immediately after their viewing and drawing tasks were complete, the kids were asked to perform four tests to assess executive function. Unfortunately for the denizens of Bikini Bottom, the kids who watched nine minutes of the frenetic high jinks of the "animated sponge" scored significantly worse than the other kids.
"Connecting fast-paced television viewing to deficits in executive function ... has profound impacts for children's cognitive and social development that need to be considered and reacted to," wrote University of Washington pediatrics professor Dr. Dimitri A. Christakis, an authority on children and the media, in an editorial accompanying the study.
A different type of expert begged to differ. Nickelodeon, the network that airs "SpongeBob SquarePants," told CNN that "having 60 non-diverse kids, who are not part of the show's targeted demo, watch 9 minutes of programming is questionable methodology. It could not possibly provide the basis for any valid findings that parents could trust." The network noted that "SpongeBob" is intended to be viewed by kids ages 6 to 11 and not by preschoolers.
Get Top Stories Delivered Weekly
From Around the Web
More The Daily Helmsman News Articles
Recent The Daily Helmsman News Articles
Discuss This Article
MOST POPULAR THE DAILY HELMSMAN NEWS
GET TOP STORIES DELIVERED WEEKLY
FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER
LATEST THE DAILY HELMSMAN NEWS
- Men’s tennis hopes for experience with fall slate
- Tigers look to keep momentum rolling against MTSU
- University library celebrates banned books
- Students celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month
- Memphis marches for a safer community
- Memphis Golf comes up big in two tournaments
- Domestic violence still poses major social threat
RECENT THE DAILY HELMSMAN CLASSIFIEDS
FROM AROUND THE WEB
- Wondering if it's Time to Buy a New Car? Just Check Your...
- Smartphone to Become Wallet -- Are Customers, Businesses...
- Grandparents, Keep Your Meds Up and Away From Young Children
- As Insurers End Coverage for Compounded Drugs, Patients...
- 4 Tips to Start Your Day a Little Earlier
- Join the Force to Fight Lung Cancer in Women
- If You Want to Help Avoid Back Problems, Stop Slouching
- Common-Sense Strategies From a Natural Marketing Guru
- 10 Steps to Help Older Adults Prevent Slips, Trips and Falls
- Stay Cool for Next to Nothing: Power Down the AC on...
COLLEGE PRESS RELEASES
- Over 2,000 Groups Prepare to “Hit the Streets” with Volunteers and Celebrities for National Voter Registration Day on September 23, 2014
- Peace Corps Director Calls on College Students to Make a Difference After Graduation Through International Service
- USA NETWORK AND VERIZON LAUNCH THE “CHARACTERS UNITE COLLEGE TOUR” COMPETITION FOR STUDENTS TO BRING A USA NETWORK CELEBRITY AND A WORTHY CAUSE TO THEIR CAMPUS
- WHEN GEORGIA SMILED: THE ROBIN MCGRAW REVELATION FOUNDATION TEAMS WITH PIVOT AND STUDENTS OF THE WORLD TO LAUNCH THE #iASPIRE GRANT CONTEST
- Latino Groups Launch National Campaign to Deliver Record Latino Turnout for 2014 Midterm Elections