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According to news media reports this morning, just the act of watching a few minutes of SpongeBob SquarePants can literally make kids dumber. I’ve always suspected this, and have constantly told my kids that SpongeBob was rotting their brains, but now I have actual science to back it up!! I get to show my kids the article in the journal Pediatrics and point them over to more healthy watching “edutainment” like PBS’ Calillou. Of course, now that they are all teens and pre-teens, now I have to find what the PBS “edutainment” equivalent is to shows like Ghost Hunters and America’s Got Talent.

I’d like to see this study expanded into adulthood to see what the effects of watching nine-hours of football on Sundays does to the brain of say… a 43 year-old law librarian. Or, what the effects of watching politically charged 24-hour “News” channels does to say the relatives of that same law librarian. My guess is that all of the answers will lead us back to turning the television back to something that is on the local PBS channel… or at least BBC America.

Now I’m wondering what the effects are of reading legal blogs with the “foci of 3 intrepid law geeks” has on the brains of everyday readers. I’m sure that PBS is currently talking about bringing us on as a featured blog for purely “edutainment” purposes. I’ll sit here and wait for them to call.

In the meantime, I’ll cue up one of my favorite lines from Billy Madison to help pull all of this this information you just read together for you.

  • I don't know if this is a terrible study, or a terrible job of covering it by the media. I suspect the latter. This is a study of 60 kids, 20 of which watched Spongebob for a total of 9 minutes, 20 watched a different cartoon, and 20 colored quietly. Then they were tested on various cognitive tasks and the Spongebob kids did worse. Now, Spongebob may literally rot your kid's brain for all I know, had the poor kids been forced to watch an entire episode they may have been nearly brain dead, but this study doesn't come close to showing that. This is a classic case of FUD. Keep moving, nothing to see here.

  • Thea Warner

    I agree with Ryan, but as Patrick Starfish once said to Spongebob, "are you gonna listen to me or or you gonna listen to a big dummy". 🙂

  • My understanding of the conclusions of this study is that SpongeBob is so full of frenetic activity and rapid scene changes (I don't know this from experience, mind you) that the children who watch it lose their ability to concentrate on things for any length of time. Caillou, the other cartoon in the study, has longer scenes, and helps its watchers develop the ability to concentrate on something for a longer period of time. I'm told Caillou is a whiner, though, with comes with its own set of problems…

  • Anonymous

    Oh man, one of my favourite quotes from Billy Madison, too 🙂