“Sponge Bob Square Pants” loved by children but child psychologist’s view him as harmful according to researchers from the University of Virginia. Their published research appears in the journal Pediatrics.
Researchers determined just a few minutes of viewing fast-paced cartoons like that of Sponge Bob hampers short-term memory, impulse control and abstract thinking in preschoolers.
Dr. Angeline Lillard, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, and lead researcher at the university, had states that parent’s should be aware that children who have just viewed shows just like “Sponge Bob Square Pants” could become compromised in their learning ability and to behave with “self-control”.
Sixty-four year olds participated in the study and were randomly assigned three activities; free drawing with markers for nine minutes, watching a slower paced PBS cartoon for nine minutes or viewing “Sponge Bob Square Pants”. Sponge Bob was chosen for its frenzied pace. Sponge Bob switches scenes every eleven seconds in comparison to a PBS cartoon that only switched twice in one minute.
Next, the preschoolers had been asked to perform four different “executive function” tasks which tests cognitive ability and impulse control such as puzzle solving and postponed reward by waiting to consume a tasty snack until told they could eat it. The preschoolers who viewed Sponge Bob had done remarkably worse on the tasks in comparison to those who viewed PBS cartoon and did drawings.
Researchers state it is hard to know what it was about friendly Sponge Bob adventures that appeared to have a negative instant effect on the preschoolers.
Dr. Lillard notes it is possible that the fast pace, where the character is in constant motion going from one thing to the next and utmost fantasy where characters do things that do not make sense in the real world may interfere with the child’s ability to immediately concentrate afterwards.
Another reason according to Dr. Lillard is that the children identified with the frantic and unfocused characters and mimicked their characteristics.
Dr. Lillard is advising parents to consider the findings of this study when making decisions on which television shows to allow their young children to view if they allow any.
Researchers also suggest that parents use creative learning activities like playing outdoors or puzzle in order to aide their children in developing sound behaviors and learning skills.