Researchers say that kids watching SpongeBob have attention deficit and learning problems, according to a study. It suggests that 4-year-olds did poor in a mental function test. A collection of 60 children were randomly assigned to watch the cartoon. After 9 minutes, each child was given the test.
Those who had watched SpongeBob did measurably worse than the other children and Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a child development specialist at Seattle Children’s Hospital, wrote an editorial that was published in the Pediatrics journal along with the study.
“What kids watch matters, it’s not just how much they watch,” Dr. Christakis wrote in the Journal Pediatrics.
SpongeBob and other similar shows, can cause attention and learning problems in toddlers because of their fast pace, argued the study’s lead author, Angeline Lillard, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia.
“I wouldn’t advise watching such shows on the way to school or any time they’re expected to pay attention and learn,” Lillard said.
A typical kids cartoon features about 22 minutes of action, so watching a full program “could be more detrimental,” the researchers speculated, but they said more evidence is needed to confirm that.
Nickelodeon spokesman David Bittler disputed the findings and said, “SpongeBob SquarePants” is aimed at kids aged 6-11, not 4-year-olds.
“Having 60 non-diverse kids, who are not part of the shows targeted audience, watch nine minutes of programming is questionable methodology and could not possibly provide the basis for any valid findings that parents could trust,” Bittler said.
In another test done during the study, researchers looked to see how long the children could go before having a snack, after the researchers left the room. Those who watched SpongeBob only last two and a half minutes. Those who took part in the other assignments lasted about 4 minutes.