Does Sponge Bob Hurt a Child’s Learning?
Can cartoons affect your child’s intellectual development? Recently, researchers studied a group of four year-old children who watched Sponge Bob Square Pants. The study found that just nine minutes of exposure to this cartoon caused short-term attention deficits and learning problems. The slower-paced PBS cartoon Caillou, however, caused fewer problems. Previous research has linked TV-watching with long-term attention problems in children, but this new study suggests that more immediate problems can occur after very little exposure. The study did involve a small number of just 60 children, but with the increase of ADD and ADHD among kids today, I caution parents that TV viewing for young children could have detrimental consequences.
Nickelodeon spokesman, David Bittler, disputed the findings and said that Sponge Bob was aimed for kids aged six to 11 and not four year-olds. However, Angeline Lillard, a University of Virginia psychology professor said that four year-olds were chosen because that age “is the heart of the period during which you see the most development” in self-control abilities.
So what does this mean for your family? I think it is important for parents to view the programs that children are watching and be aware of a child’s ability to focus and pay attention after watching TV programs. If a child’s behavior is affected, this would be a good warning that the program that your child is watching may be detrimental.
Instead of putting your child in front of the TV screen, try the great learning and quality time activities I detail in the My Baby Compass program.
– Kathy Gruhn, MA CCC-SLP, author of My Baby Compass series