A new study on the effects of fast-paced television shows on preschoolers demonstrates that programs such as Sponge Bob are detrimental to short-term attention and problem solving. A group of 60 4-year-olds were assigned an activity, either watching Sponge Bob, watching Caillou (a slow paced PBS show), or drawing. After doing the assigned activity for nine minutes, the preschoolers were given a test measuring executive function. The preschoolers that watched Sponge Bob performed measurably worse, while the other two groups performed better (with no measurable difference between these other two).
Is It Just Sponge Bob?
While Sponge Bob has been unfairly singled out in this experiment, it’s pretty clear that programs children exposed to affect them even after the show is turned off. While the study seems to blame the “fast-paced” nature of a show like sponge bob for the ill effects, there simply isn’t enough data to make this assumption. As a spokesperson for Sponge Bob’s creator, Viacom, points out, Sponge Bob is designed for kids ages 6-11, and not for preschoolers. Still, I wonder if Sponge Bob would have the same effect on older kids, and if other shows for preschoolers get the same results as Caillou.
So what are the important take-aways from this study?
- What kids watch is just as important as how much
- Slower-paced tv shows are probably better for preschool age kids
- Much more information is needed to make the best TV choices for our children
Although this study has its limitations, it seems to have sparked great interest in the parenting community about how TV shows affect our kids. I look forward to more studies and insights on this topic in the future.
What are your thoughts on this study, or on TV for preschoolers in general?