According to the Des Moines Register in a page 2 story “a study suggests that watching as little as 9 minutes of SpongeBob Square Pants can cause short-term attention and learning problems in 4 year olds. The problems were seen in a study of 60 children randomly assigned to either watch SpongeBob or the slower paced PBS cartoon Cailou or to draw pictures.[sic] After these nine minute assignments, of the kids (bold added)who took mental functioning tests, those who had watched SpongeBob did measurably worse than the others.” (Des Moines Register , 9/12/11).
Other than the fact that the “Paper Iowa Depends On” published this story uncited and un-attributed one has to wonder first about the words in the description of the study, ” of the kids who took the test,” and second, how they managed to wake up the kids who had been watching Cailou.
A more significant study might be a comparison of the mental functioning of adults who watched a presidential debate as opposed to Cailou. This is particularly pertinent to the issue because of a quote taken from the actual study in Pediatrics. “It is possible that the fast pacing, where characters are constantly in motion from one thing to the next, and extreme fantasy, where the characters do things that make no sense in the real world, may disrupt the
child’s adults ability to concentrate immediately afterward.” If that isn’t a definition of a presidential debate I can’t think of a better one and the debates last for hours. If 9 minutes can disturb mental functioning what will two hours do to you?
Or perhaps a better study might be the excitability of those who read the Register (newspaper) as opposed to those who like to read instruction manuals for DVD players.
Additional information about how SpongeBob is “destroying” America can be found at the sites below. You will get a much more honest and complete review of the study at these sites than in the Des Moines Register. The study is filled with too many “maybe’s, may’s, might’s, and could’s to be particularly strong but at its base I don’t necessarily disagree with it and after reading further I feel better because even though SpongeBob takes a hit, he is not alone!
©2011 Richard Safris