SpongeBob Found to Impair Preschoolers’ Thinking

Matt Blum

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?
SpongeBob SquarePants!
Rot your kids’ brains right there in their heads will he.
SpongeBob SquarePants!

There’s a lot of hullabaloo on the web today about a newly-published study out of the University of Virginia that shows that preschoolers who watched SpongeBob SquarePants had increased difficulty performing tasks requiring focus and self-control. The study draws the conclusion that watching a fast-paced TV show negatively affects kids’ cognitive functioning for a short time after watching it.

The scientists conducting the study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, took a group of 60 four-year-olds, mostly from white, middle-class families, and randomly separated the kids into three groups: one which watched a part of a SpongeBob episode, one which watched a similar amount of a Caillou episode, and one which simply did some free-drawing and watched no TV. After that phase was over, they gave the children a set of tasks to do which required what’s called “executive function,” a term which refers to a set of skills related to goal-directed behavior — including attention, self-regulation, problem-solving, and ability to deal with delayed gratification. They consistently found that the kids who had watched SpongeBob did significantly worse at the tasks than the kids in either of the other groups.

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Image: Paramount Pictures

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