LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Some people say a 4-year-old’s brain is like a sponge, but researchers say that’s not the case when it comes to watching SpongeBob SquarePants.

Researchers at the University of Virginia found that fast-paced cartoons like SpongeBob can impact young children’s behavior and can cause short-term attention and learning problems.

KNX 1070 talks with the study’s lead author, University of Virginia psychology professor Angeline Lillard.

The study was based on 60 children randomly assigned to watch SpongeBob, or a slower-paced cartoon or draw.

They found preschoolers who watched SpongeBob SquarePants for nine minutes did not do well on brain function tests compared to the children who watched slower cartoons or did artwork.

The study was published Monday in the Journal of Pediatrics.

Nickelodeon, which airs SpongeBob SquarePants, issued a statement: “Having 60 non-diverse kids, who are not part of the show’s targeted demo, watch nine minutes of programming is questionable methodology. It could not possibly provide the basis for any valid findings that parents could trust.”

The network added that the cartoon is aimed at children aged 6-11, not 4-year-olds.

The American Academy of Pediatrics warn that children younger than two should not watch any TV, while older children should not spend more than two hours a day watching TV, playing video games or being on the computer.

Comments (16)
  1. Duh! says:

    I could of told them this years ago. My kids have been off the sponge for a year now. Each of them have increased there test scores ten fold. Nothing better than banning them from the brain drain/tv. If the people behind this study can get more press from this, just think about how smart our children will be with out sponge-bob!

    1. MsKarenL says:

      Perhaps you could use a little less tv time yourself. Case in point…it’s “could HAVE told them…” not “could OF”. Secondly, it’s “THEIR test scores…” not ‘THERE”. A little bit of the pot calling the kettle black, don’t you think?

    2. mike says:

      Its not Spongebob it’s his side kick Patrick, who takes this cartoon too seriously.

  2. Diana says:

    No kidding? This show and Barney are a wsate of a time!

  3. loser says:

    People should mind their own buisness! Betcha this was done at cal state long beach, since they always want attention.

    1. TT says:

      i think its a bunch of non sense… everything in moderation….

    2. krg says:

      Or you could actually learn to read since it says it was done at the University of Virginia. Short attention span = inability to read and comprehend full article.

  4. Spongebob Is NOT The Problem says:

    This is a ridiculous finding and I am going to have to agree with Nickelodeon on this one. Every cartoon series has an aimed viewing age group. If Spongebob Squarepants is not aimed at 4-year-olds, then why do the stinking test on 4-year-olds?! Do the test on the appropriate targeted age group! Besides, I highly doubt that it’s specifically Spongebob that effects our children’s brain function; it’s MOST of the cr@p you find on TV these days that are making our kids stupid. So who’s fault is that? Nickelodeon’s? Nope. It’s the parents.

  5. Moogs says:

    I rather see my kids watching and enjoying SBob than listeing to hardcore gang banger thug gangsta rap.

    Which was exactly what I witnessed over the weekend, about two three kids in a big SUV, little 6 7 years old little hispanic kids, waiting for mom to comeback and all the while listening to some serious thug jamz.

    I was like man, no wonder we have a thug culture.

    Yay Sponge Bob!

  6. ginny says:

    Gee, I grew up watching Mighty Mouse and Rocky/Bullwinkle, what would they say about that.

  7. Nora says:

    It’s not Sponge Bob, per se, it’s the speed of the film. The past ten years, at the very least, films, music videos, cartoons, have all gone into hyper speed to give more instant gratification, not allowing the brain, the mind, to really absorb anything the sense are experiencing. This is very damaging, and has been a concern of mine. People need time to process information and decide if it should store or toss it, and the hyper speed doesn’t allow for it any of it.

  8. Nora says:

    Films that incresingly show things a megaspeeds, or without real content, harm kids because kids cannot retain what they’ve seen, nor decide ir or how to use it for themselves. Then, schools say kids are more hyperactive and need Ritalin? Kids are being programmed to not have patience to learn.So, they get frustrated easily, can’t problem solve properly. Kids need to balance play time, creative time, and the rest.

    1. Michael J. McDermott says:

      Also, commercial TV should be treated as simply an advertising machine and nothing more. It should also be carefully regulated as such.
      Of course it really does program kids minds. TV should be regulated more and careful attention should be given to what goes into these programs and eventually into children’s minds. Many kids unfortunately end up watching TV for hours.
      It’s not an issue of free speech or freedom of the press, of course.
      TV is an advertising machine with skilfully prepared matter aimed at a target consumer group. It really should NOT be thought of as a legitimate form of entertainment. More people, especially children should know this. It can be dangerous.
      Yes, I’m serious.

  9. Bobby Dias says:

    Hey- 2 minutes of a Barack Obama puts everybody to sleep. Counting Barack Obama lies puts the kids to sleep. Barack Obama’s only education was in an America-hating muslim school. Barack Obama was kicked out of easy Occidental College. Barack Obama’s father bribed to get Barack’s law license. Now somebody fixes the tests to “prove” that SpongeBob is bad for kids? Must be Obama running the anti-SpongeBob “tests” because Obama is always saying the OTHER people are bad. OBAMA is the bad example for children to look at- not any cartoon character!

  10. Zweb Wolf says:

    theres too much going on in this world for someone saying SpongeBob affects our kids.

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