Spongebob? Not in my house!


“Watching just a short bit of the wildly popular kids TV show “SpongeBob SquarePants” has been known to give many parents headaches. Psychologists have now found that a brief exposure to SpongeBob, Patrick, Squidward and the rest of the crew also appears to dampen preschoolers’ brain power.”

That’s a quote from an article in the Los Angeles Times today… Apparently, someone needed a study to prove that watching Spongebob hinders the minds of children… Sure, TV in general is in no way a replacement for hands on, interactive entertainment… but watching a show on TV that offers absolutely nothing in the ways of problem solving, memory skills, or other needed skills for their little learning brains… doesn’t help in any way..

So, this research group, took 60 4 year old kids and separated them into 3 groups: “one that watched nine minutes of a fast-paced, “very popular fantastical cartoon about an animated sponge that lives under the sea;” one that watched nine minutes of slower-paced programming from a PBS show “about a typical U.S. preschool-aged boy;” and a third group that was asked to draw for nine minutes with markers and crayons.”

After watching these few minutes of TV or drawing, the kids were given 4 tests to see how their executive function was affected. Those kids who watched the cartoon about our dear friend with the Square Pants scored the lowest. “Hmmmm” she says…

Now, Nickelodeon… The network that airs SpongeBob Squarepants says that there are issues with this kind of test. They told CNN that “having 60 non-diverse kids, who are not part of the show’s targeted demo, watch 9 minutes of programming is questionable methodology. It could not possibly provide the basis for any valid findings that parents could trust.” They also said that SpongeBob’s intended viewing audience was kids ages 6-11… not preschoolers… But really, does that make any difference? How many young kids have you seen watching this cartoon?

I for one am really glad that I limit my kids from SpongeBob… Regardless of how true this study is or not… There are much better things to do than sit in front of the TV all day watching cartoons…

What do you think? Do you think this study rings true? Do you let your kids watch SpongeBob? Will you after reading this article?


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4 Responses to “Spongebob? Not in my house!”

  1. Jessica @peekababy says:

    I have never regretted the decision to greatly limit my kids media exposure in general. Not only do i prefer that they engage their minds in more creative or physically active ways, but the obnoxious behavior and crudeness portrayed on shows like Spongebob is not anything that I want my children to emulate.
    The few shows that I do let my 2 and 5 year old watch on occasion (Sesame Street and WordWorld are favorites) only portray positive behaviors, are interactive and intelligent for me to sit through myself!

  2. MidLyfeMama says:

    There is a big difference between watching cartoons all day and allowing access to TV in limited amounts. I do not know what controls they used for this study – what were the capabilities of the children involved to begin with? I am not about to tell any parent how to parent, but my child does watch a variety of TV, with our supervision and approval. I am quite comfortable that after a day of being at preschool, with a complete lack of access to TV, where he is engaged in many creative activities and socializing, an hour or so of TV is not going to damage his executive functions in any way. Honestly, I will take Spongebob over that damn Yo Gaba Gaba show any day. We call it NO Gaba Gaba in this house. It is insipid and annoying, Jack Black notwithstanding. While there are many completely ridiculous situations in almost every episode of Spongebob I have ever seen, there is almost always problem solving AND a moral to the story. I won’t say it is as educational as Sesame Street, but it is not any more annoying than Baby Bear’s voice.

  3. Melissa says:

    Interesting. I’m not a fan of Sponge Bob myself. I wonder if they did the study and had the kids watch Phineas and Ferb if the results would be the same. One month John was telling me about Machu Picchu being in Peru. I asked him if he learned about that at school. “No, Phineas and Ferb.” Emma was talking about something else a week later that I was impressed she knew. “Are you learning about that in science?” I asked. “No, Phineas and Ferb.” Then John was talking about Big Ben in London. I asked again and heard “Phineas and Ferb.” Geez! I couldn’t help but wonder if they are learning anything at all in school! (And thanks Phineas and Ferb.)

    That being said I don’t recommend tv for kids…however, my kids do watch it! :)

  4. monicabrady says:

    Interesting points by all of you… Not sure if y’all know .. but my girls are 6 years old, and in 1st grade. Not preschoolers anymore.. They are right at that market that Spongebob is marketed to…

    Jessica, PBS has always been a favorite in this house. When my girls told me which dinosaurs were carnivores or herbivores a couple of years back, I was pretty impressed.

    MidLyfeMama- Yes.. Limiting time in TV is like anything else. ie. video games, computer web surfing, exposure in the sun, etc.. Everything in moderation. The only thing I will never limit is reading books, drawing pictures, and practicing their choice in sport.. Something I’ve learned from hubby.. Kids need imagination.. if they are stuck to a TV or computer letting it think everything up for them, they will never grow their minds, and expand… Kids learn and retain things better by doing, and experiencing, not so much when living through the eyes of others. Yo Gabba Gabba is someone’s trip gone bad, and I can take Baby Bear over Caillou any day *snort*

    Melissa- We L-O-V-E Phineas and Ferb.. I’ve even learned things from them.. No kidding. Shows me how long I’ve been out of school.. When it comes to shows that make learning fun.. I’m a lot more at ease of letting them watch things like that… in moderation…

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