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september 12, 2011 • 05:16 PM

SpongeBob Study Shows Cartoon Can Negatively Affect Kids

SpongeBob Study Shows Cartoon Can Negatively Affect Kids.
Foto: AP
 

A new study using 60 4-years-old shows that fast-paced shows like 'SpongeBob Squarepants' could alter children's ability to react. Get the details on this interesting study now.

University of Virginia psychologist Angeline Lillard wanted to find out if the type of television children watch could affect them in different ways. The 60 participants were recruited through their parents and were placed in three different conditions.

The first activity had children drawing with crayons for nine minutes. The second circumstance had children watching a very fast-paced showwith 'a very popular fantastical cartoon about an animated sponge that lives under the sea' for the same amount of time. The third required children to watch a slow-paced nine-minute segment of a show with 'a typical U.S. preschool-age boy.'

Although Lillard has not confirmed which shows were used during the study, it is believed to be 'SpongeBob Squarepants' and 'Caillou' from PBS. The shows were chosen because of their pace and scene changes. 'SpongeBob' changes scenes every 11 seconds or so, while 'Caillou' switches at about every 34 seconds.

After performing the task of coloring or watching television, children were tested and scored while researchers observed the level of executive control of their subjects. Children were asked to follow directions, play 'Simon Says,' and take part in the 'marshmallow' test. The 'marshmallow' test is when a researcher leaves the child in a room with two marshmallows or goldfish, based on preference, and tells them they can eat the treats when a bell rings or if they wait for the researcher to return they can have 10 pieces of the treat.

Children who watched the fast-paced 'SpongeBob' segment scored poorly across the board compared to children who watched a slow-paced show or colored. Children who watched the PBS program consistently when compared to those who colored. It is still unclear how long these issues continue on once the child has stopped watching the show.

Are you concerned about your child's television programs?

Terra/Marilyn Dominguez