So says Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a child development specialist at Seattle Children’s Hospital regarding the effects of watching SpongeBob. No joke:
The problems were seen in a study of 60 children randomly assigned to either watch “SpongeBob,” or the slower-paced PBS cartoon “Caillou,” or assigned to draw pictures. Immediately after these nine-minute assignments, the kids took mental function tests; those who had watched “SpongeBob” did measurably worse than the others.
Previous research has linked TV-watching with long-term attention problems in children, but the new study suggests more immediate problems can occur after very little exposure — results that parents of young kids should be alert to, the study authors said.
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.
There are problems with the study: size, scope, etc. The spokesperson from the American Academy of Pediatrics reiterates its recommendation: two hours a day is just fine for kids over 2.
If 9 minutes of SpongeBob affects the mental function of 4-year-olds, imagine what 2 hours can do.
University of Virginia psychology professor Angeline Lillard, the lead author, said Nickelodeon’s “SpongeBob” shouldn’t be singled out. She found similar problems in kids who watched other fast-paced cartoon programming.
She said parents should realize that young children are compromised in their ability to learn and use self-control immediately after watching such shows. “I wouldn’t advise watching such shows on the way to school or any time they’re expected to pay attention and learn,” she said.
What a crock. When should children be exempt from paying attention? Learning? Playtime is a natural means of exploration. But kids hopped up on SpongeBob and the like can’t focus enough to play, either, let alone sit still or, God forbid, listen to a parent.
Do yourself and your kids a favor: kick the habit of allowing your kids to rot in front of the telly if you haven’t already.
H/t: Hot Air headlines
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