There has been a lot of press over the past two days about a study regarding Spongebob Squarepants that psychologists Angeline Lillard and Jennifer Peterson from UVA ran. In the study, they examined three groups of twenty 4-year-olds (not to be confused with 24 year olds who watch Spongebob :) — one that watched SpongeBob for nine minutes, one that watched Caillou, and one that drew with crayons — and they determined that SpongeBob’s “fast-paced” format harmed the children’s memory, attention, and self-regulation.
The present study found that 9 minutes of viewing a popular fast-paced fantastical television show immediately impaired 4-year-olds’ [executive function], a result about which parents of young children should be aware.
This study is completely bogus for the simple fact that they did not test against the core audience that Spongebob is targeted towards – which is any kid over 6 (or stoned college students). Plus, the burden of knowing what is right and wrong for your kid to watch needs to be decided by the parent, not some study from UVA.
My son loves Spongebob. He takes a Spongebob view of the world – in that he sometimes relates things he sees or experiences in real life to Spongebob’s world. For example, from a post of mine a few years ago:
My son is a big fan of Spongebob Squarepants and all his cronies from the Krusty Krab (OK, Daddy watches it here and there too :). So a couple of weeks ago he was watching the “Who Bob, What Pants” episode, in which Spongebob suffers amnesia and somehow finds his way to a town unknown to him called New Kelp City. In his visit to New Kelp City, he is referred to as a “jobless deadbeat”.
So with this context, I take you to my son’s Kindergarten class. His teacher is talking to the class about the poor Economy and specifically discusses how people are losing their jobs and are unemployed. So as any good teacher would do, she reviews the discussion with the class to see who was paying attention. And during this review, she asks the class “So class, what is the word for people who are not working?”. And without missing a beat, my son raises his hand and blurts out “Jobless deadbeats!”.
I would have paid money to have seen his teacher’s face when he said this.
Ah, the wonderful world of Spongebob.