In the good academic tradition of keeping things anonymous, when Pediatrics published a study questioning the cognitive effects of a particular children’s television show, they identified it only as “a very popular fantastical cartoon about an animated sponge that lives under the sea.”
So all we can say is that a show that may or may not be SpongeBob SquarePants is responsible for impairing kids’ ability to remember, self-regulate, and pay attention (also known as executive function) after only a few minutes of viewing. The study’s authors hypothesize that it’s SpongeBob’s (sorry, we mean the very popular undersea animated sponge‘s) quick pace that may influence the kids’ behavior. (Children who were shown a slower-paced PBS cartoon performed better on the executive function tasks.)
This is, of course, bad news for any parent who’s had to sit through a glacially-paced (and incredibly boring) episode of Blues Clues. SpongeBob is just more fun to watch — for adults at least. But then again, I was raised on a steady diet of hyper-kinetic Looney Tunes, and I turned out fine, I think.
So what’s your take on kids’ TV — a threat to healthy development, or an overblown influence?