Is SpongeBob making your kids dumb?

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? SpongeBob dumb pants.

Turns out, the little yellow porous TV character may be dumbing down your kids. A new study by researchers at the University of Virginia found that exposing kids to just nine minutes of the show “SpongeBob SquarePants” impaired their mental function. Researchers lumped four-year olds into three groups: one watched SpongeBob, one watched Caillou (a PBS show that makes me want to cringe every time I see that damned open with that spoiled little kid throwing a tantrum, but anyway…) and the third group colored pictures. After nine minutes time, the kids took tests of their mental function. The ones who watched SpongeBob were much worse than the other children. A pediatrician who wrote an accompanying editorial said the fast paced nature of SpongeBob may be to blame. 

One of my best friends has a little girl who has not watched television, ever. My friend and her husband agreed to not let her watch TV until she turned three, which is less than a month away. It’s been a long road. TV can be an easy babysitter. I know. I’ve stuck my children in front of the TV so I could pay the bills, make dinner, take a shower, cry in the pantry or whatever. Sometimes, you just need a little help. Their daughter has an incredible vocabulary (both in English and Italian.) She’s a pretty smart cookie.

My kids don’t get to watch a lot of TV. When they do, it’s pretty much always PBS programming. (Except Caillou. I try avoiding that one at all costs. Man, between him and Barney, a mom could lose her mind.) I’ve noticed when my kids watch shows on other channels, they turn into little TV zombies. I often have to break the trance (ie, shut the TV off) to get them to snap out of it and listen to what I’m saying.

What do you think about kids and TV? Do you let your kids watch TV? What do they watch and how much TV do they get to watch a day/week?

 

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15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Michael Melielo
    Sep 13, 2011 @ 19:00:00

    What about the study on adults? I imagine SBDP makes them dumb as well..

    Reply

  2. Mae
    Sep 13, 2011 @ 19:18:30

    HA! I make my kids do slave labor, play in the backyard with the FBs or maybe play with something creative like legos. They watch cartoon movies maybe every other time they are at my place, unless it’s a weekend. I don’t have regular TV for them to watch. I try to make them “do stuff”. From what they tell me their Dad let’s them watch “everything”… who knows what the truth is behind that. *SIGH* you can only control so much.

    Reply

  3. Simplysmart
    Sep 13, 2011 @ 21:15:14

    This right here is completely dumb itself! A t.v show like Spongebob does not make your kids stupid, its just a show. Besides, whoever conducted this little experiment did it wrong because you cant test three different groups on the same test after different activities! You have to have one group and test them differently each time cause the other groups might have been smarter then another so thats why it has to be the same group with their same i.q each time! For one thing Spongebob helps kids, he’s a great example on kids to be happy, he shows them that no matter what situation your stuck in, you stay positive. He also teaches the value of friendship, him and Patrick are there for each other and that teaches kids to be there for their friends. Besides, why would you try to disgrace this show, ruining it for generations to come, Spongebob is a great role model and show, i hope nobody is dumb enough to think this theory is true!

    Reply

  4. Momx5kidz
    Sep 13, 2011 @ 22:56:04

    Sponge Bob is NOT allowed in my house. It is hideous and my sons know enough disgusting habits w/o SBSP’s help! ewwwwwww…My kids have very little TV time and it is usually a DVD that I have bought and approve of. I think more adult men watch SBSP than kids do……they just encourage kids to watch it to give them an excuse to also watch it. : )

    Reply

  5. kristen
    Sep 13, 2011 @ 23:47:46

    This article made me laugh! I am amother of 2 and my four year old watches spongebob 1 to 3 times a week. When we had a placement test done he rated at the 1st grade! yes at only 4 years old. Parents do most certainly need to monitor the amount of time their kid its in front of the tv. Assuming this is true is only making an ass out of you and me.

    Reply

  6. Kim
    Sep 14, 2011 @ 01:00:51

    I have a 5, 4 & 2 yr old and they are not allowed to watch anything on Nick, or Nick Jr and only allowed certian shows on Disney and PBS.Other then that they watch musicals and old cartoons. Both my husband and I agree that Sponge Bob should not be a kids cartoon especially if you want the child to have a brain!!! My kids are allowed to watch tv in the morning but maybe no more then an hour when we’re home to do so which isn’t often. But I try limit the amount of tv and keep them busy with other things. Since my oldest missed the bday deadline to start school this year we do our own type of school work which takes a couple hours out of the day.

    Reply

  7. Maria
    Sep 14, 2011 @ 16:18:03

    We hardly EVER watch TV at my house…and the kids know it. They get enough TV at their dad’s! If it’s nice, we are outside. Plus, like Mae, I make my kids “do stuff.” But that also means I have to “do stuff” too….like play chess with them, show them for the EIGHTEENTH TIME how to put the dishes in the dishwasher, and check and recheck their rooms after they SAY they cleaned them. Oh, yeah. And practice spelling. Over. And Over. And Over.

    Reply

  8. Michael
    Sep 18, 2011 @ 19:31:57

    It is not so much a matter of SBSP as much as it the medium in general. Although there is nothing to be validly gained from watching it, it is not itself the issue. There are numerous proven reasons tv is bad for kids and people in general.

    A big issue is what they referred to as the ‘fast paced’ aspect of the show. What this refers to is the constant skipping from scene to scene and from shot to shot. This creates – especially in children whose brains re-wire about 20x faster than yours – the inability to concentrate on anything that takes time. This will especially represent itself when in school they need to listen to lectures or take tests.

    If an easy babysitter is needed, even videogames are a better option than any television program. At least with a videogame the child will improve coordination, dexterity, develop problem solving skills and in many cases learn reading. Active participation is good, and it does not harm the imagination the way tv does with a lazy brain.

    Reply

  9. Im Agem
    Jan 10, 2012 @ 13:47:36

    peopel who say they don’t let their kids watch tv are pompous and full of crap.

    Reply

  10. Wow
    Feb 17, 2012 @ 13:45:00

    This study is horrible. They only used rich white children for their experiment. Either way this experiment was done wrong and the results are absolutely stupid.

    Reply

  11. Chun Lanson
    Feb 20, 2013 @ 23:43:00

    SpongeBob: This little guy always tries to do the right thing, and is a hard worker. He may not always end up getting the results he hoped for, but he bounces back and tackles his work with a renewed vigor. SpongeBob works very hard, he’s a good friend, he always thinks of others, and tries to have fun no matter what he is faced with. Hardworking, friendly SpongeBob is the guy to be when writing articles..

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    Reply

  12. Jocelyn
    Jun 22, 2015 @ 15:22:20

    I usually always have the TV on with Blue’s Clues playing. That show is largely responsible for my kids’ ability to draw really great things!
    Most of the time, though, it’s background noise and what they park in front of to take a break from running circles around the yard and playroom.
    It’s slow, educational, and not even get bored or annoyed watching it with the kids – I have had adult friends come over and become entranced by the songs. In fact, it was one of them that enlightened me to the fact that Blue actually says the answer to her riddle when she puts her first paw print on the screen.

    Reply

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