Unless you’ve been stuck under a rock, you’ve seen a SpongeBob SquarePants episode or two, or 10… possibly more. SpongeBob quickly became a favorite in our household back in 1999. My oldest daughter was 7 at the time and most children in her class were tuning in. My younger daughter was 2, and she would watch along, not always knowing what was going on, but they enjoyed it. When my son was born, he also eventually became engulfed in what was going on in Bikini Bottom.
Now researchers are saying that the program causes an attention problem in many kids after just nine minutes of viewing, according to the study published online Monday in the journal, Pediatrics.They say that when they compared 60 four-year-olds who watched with SpongeBob or the slower paced Caillou, the kids who watched SpongeBob scored vastly lower than the kids who watched Caillou.
To their defense, Nickelodeon maintains that the show is geared for 6-11 year olds, not preschoolers. Yet on the other hand, I’d say that most four-year-olds do indeed watch the show. When my kids watched Caillou, they were about 2 or 3 the most. By age four, that show is extremely slow for most quick thinking four-year-olds who are already in full-time school. Plus, Caillou is such a whiner!
The comparison in this study was off simply because the age recommendations do not match. Also, how do we know that the kids involved didn’t already have attention problems prior to those 9 minutes of viewing time? Odds are, they did.
I’m skeptical that any 9 minutes of TV viewing can cause attention problems. Even the full show wouldn’t phase me or change my view that a half-hour cartoon can do anything harmful. Yet researchers disagree:
Kids’ cartoon shows typically feature 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.
More detrimental, really? It seems like everything is becoming so crazy in parenting sometimes. Do we need studies for every little thing and even worse, rely on them to make up our minds? What happened to our common sense and confidence in being a parent to make the right decisions? This study is flaky to say the least.
The show is for older kids, yes, but it’s also funny. It’s a show that doesn’t make me want rip my ears off, one that I can watch without counting down the minutes until it’s over, and I like the cheap Mr. Krabs, the ditzy Patrick and the tough as nails, Sandy.
Do you let your kids watch SpongeBob? Will this study change your mind?
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