In the News: SpongeBob Squarepants Vs. a Recent Study

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Why is everybody hatin’ on SpongeBob lately?

A study came out last week saying that SpongeBob might actually be harmful for kids (pretty much around the age of four, which is not their target audience, by the way) to watch on a regular basis because it might cut down on their ability to focus. Here’s the deal: sixty kids were tested. The first group was made to color, the second group watched SpongeBob and the third watched Calliou (not sure on the spelling). When the designated time was up, they were all tested and it was clear that the SpongeBob group did (apparently) significantly worse focus-wise than the kids in the other two groups.

Here’s my problem with this study: it’s stupid. Any parent knows that SpongeBob Squarepants isn’t the most educational show that a child could watch. If you’re looking to teach your kids colors or numbers or singing in Spanish, Dora the Explorer or Blues Clues are better choices. However, don’t children deserve a little bit of time to just relax and be entertained with a cartoon that doesn’t shove education at them every second? SpongeBob and his pals are purely for entertainment value–there’s really nothing more to them–but that’s okay because kids shouldn’t have to learn every second of the day.

When I was growing up, everyone watched Scooby Doo and Bugs Bunny. Not exactly educational shows. And yet, for the most part, my generation turned out okay. Four year-olds aren’t necessarily known for their focusing skills anyway. And, like I said before, 4 years old isn’t even SpongeBob’s target audience.

Should parents be aware of what their children are watching? Yes. Should children watch SpongeBob all day long? Probably not. But, in an effort to teach our kids about the world around them, let’s not take away the entertainment factor. Dora and Blues Clues are great for learning, but we should allow our children to just sit back and relax with a bunch of silliness from time to time and for that, I feel SpongeBob is ideal.

How about we take the time, money and energy it took to complete this study and invest them in something that makes a little more sense, like finding funding for inner city schools to have enough text books for each student. Or encouraging communities to start their own preschool programs, like Head Start. THAT kind of stuff will help kids learn, not attacking cartoon characters.

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About cdhoose

I'm a mom to an amazing little girl and have another little one on the way. I live in Upstate New York with my fiance and daughter, 2 big, crazy dogs and a 3-legged cat (who has an attitude). I hate know-it-alls, Lindsay Lohan and socks with holes in them. I always seem to get myself into trouble (which entertains my fiance to no end), but I try hard to be a good parent. Also, I occasionally work on scrapbooking the fifty billion pictures I've taken of my kid. And I like ice cream. The end.

2 responses »

  1. 1) As for sponge bob not being educational, that wasn’t the point of the study. The study didn’t determine how well kids recognized colors and shapes after 9 minutes, but their executive functions (i.e. their ability to see things through). No one is arguing that kids can only watch “educational” programs, but that these fast paced programs noticeably disintegrate a child’s ability to pay attention to other tasks once the TV is off. It’s not just that sponge bob won’t teach colors and shapes, it actually HURTS your child’s cognitive development. Regardless of whether a program teaches anything ‘academic,’ slow-paced programming is what this study promotes.

    2) Your attitude seems to be that learning cannot be fun for children. Heaven forbid a parent ‘shove’ new information and insight upon their children as much as possible. My daughter watches PBS programs about science, words, finance, social skills… and loves every one of them. To be honest, kids, as little sponges themselves, are ALWAYS absorbing new information and behaviors all the time, whether we think we are ‘shoving’ it on them or not. Since that is the case, why not choose a program that won’t potentially damage your child’s ability to focus when it does come time to ‘shove’ educational programs upon them.

    3) Your generation turned out okay? Does that include the fact that our generation is falling behind in the world labor market because we can’t keep up educationally and technologically? What about the sky rocketing rates of ADD and ADHD? Falling SAT scores? My parents’ generation grew up not wearing seatbelts and *most* of them survived, so what’s the big deal?

    4) Admittedly it may seem there is always a better way to spend money than on research studies. But the truth is that, in low income and under educated families, parents do NOT realize that 4 years are not the target audience for Sponge Bob, or that fast-paced programs outside of school can damage their child’s ability to focus inside the classroom. Studies like this help bring this kind of parenting information to them. Funding in better school supplies and programs is only part of the equation, another major aspect is what parents do with their kids once school is done. Studies like this could also put pressure on the producers of children TV programs to be more responsible in their designs.

    5) Let’s not forget the countless studies indicating that children under the age of 2 should not be watching ANY TELEVISION AT ALL.

    • Whoa, whoa, whoa. Where is this hostility coming from? I was simply writing about the fact that I don’t agree with the results of this study. It’s just my opinion and although I respect other people’s opinions, I don’t appreciate the almost attack mode that your comment seems to be centered around.

      1. “…their ability to see things through” equals being able to focus, which is exactly what I said in my post. I don’t agree that watching SpongeBob can hurt a child’s cognitive development. It’s that simple. It’s my opinion and I’m entitled to it, especially since this is, you know, my blog.

      2. I never said learning cannot be fun. My daughter is a huge Dora fan. And apparently you aren’t a big reader of my blog since if you were, you would notice a lot of my Creative Parenting Solutions Tuesday posts have at least something to do with making learning fun. My point was that SpongeBob is for entertainment purposes only and should not be held in the same regard as other shows. Kids ARE sponges and DO learn from everything, which is even more of a reason why I feel that SpongeBob cannot hurt a child’s development because there are so many other places that a child picks things up.

      3. There is a BIG difference between me saying that my generation faired well from watching Scooby Doo and your parent’s generation not wearing seatbelts. There’s really no comparison between the two. I was simply saying that watching a cartoon cannot make that much of a difference on a person’s life. To bring up world issues and ‘skyrocketing rates of ADD and ADHD (which, by the way, is incorrect. It is well-know that many children are misdiagnosed) seems a little dramatic when all I was referring to is a cartoon character.

      4. I think you aren’t giving low-income and under-educated families a lot of credit, which is just too bad. I agree that producers of children TV programs should be more responsible for their designs, however, this is a cartoon we’re talking about.

      5. I’m sure children fair better NOT watching any TV, but is that entirely realistic? Perhaps your child didn’t watch TV until she was two, but that’s not the norm in this day and age.

      What it boils down to is (and this was the main point of my post) we’re talking about a cartoon, for God’s sake. I just don’t agree that it makes that much of a difference if a child watches SpongeBob. I even stated in my post that a child should not watch SpongeBob all of the time. However, watching a cartoon simply for the sake of entertainment, I believe, will not hurt the child.

      And here’s where I get a little annoyed: If you don’t care for a view you see on my blog, then don’t read it. I have no idea who you are, so I definitely didn’t make you read my blog. Therefore, you don’t need to visit my site if you are going to become so upset simply by someone stating a viewpoint different from your own.

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