Study: Watching SpongeBob makes preschoolers slower thinkers

Written by admin   // September 13, 2011   // 0 Comments

(ABC News)

He may be one of the longest-running, best-loved cartoons in Nickelodeon history,
but SpongeBob SquarePants is getting no love from child psychologists.
According to research published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, watching fast-paced
cartoons like SpongeBob, even for just a few minutes, hinders abstract thinking,
short-term memory and impulse control in preschoolers.
Led  by University of Virginia psychologist Angeline Lillard, researchers randomly
assigned 60 four-year-olds to three activities: drawing freely with markers for
nine minutes; watching a slower-paced, PBS cartoon for that time; or watching
SpongeBob SquarePants. Researchers chose SpongeBob for its frenetic pace: The
show switches scenes on average every 11 seconds, as compared with the PBS cartoon, which switched
only twice a minute.
Afterward  the preschoolers were asked to do four different “executive function” tasks that
test cognitive capability and impulse control, such as counting backwards, solving puzzles, and
delaying gratification by waiting to eat a tasty snack until told to do so.
Compared with those who were drawing and those watching PBS, the SpongeBob kids
performed significantly worse on the tasks.
Study  authors note that it’s hard to say what it was about the adventures of this
friendly kitchen sponge that seemed to have such an immediate negative effect on kids, but they
suspected it was the fantastical events and rapid pacing of the show. By
contrast, the PBS show was slower and exhibited real life events about a
preschool-age boy.
Parents and pediatricians have often commented that the frenzied pace of many kids’ cartoons today
make kids distracted and kill their attention spans.
Read more

This  story is getting picked up by news outlets from coast to coast. Talk to any
early childhood education expert to localize.
One of our clients can help. Amy Zicarelli helps design enrichment programs for
children ages 0-7. She can talk about the study and of course, you’re always
welcome to interview parents at her center:


Amy  Zicarelli
Early Education expert
(cell) 214-289-3022

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