SpongeBob linked to learning problems in kids

Sixty children were randomly assigned to watch Nickelodeon‘s SpongeBob or the slower-paced PBS cartoon Caillou or to draw pictures.

After nine minutes, the children took mental function tests, with those who had watched SpongeBob doing measurably worse than the others.

Previous research has linked TV watching with long-term attention problems in children, but the new study suggests more immediate problems can occur after very little exposure – results that parents of youngsters should be alert to, the study authors said.

Children’s cartoon shows typically feature 22 minutes of action, so watching a full program “could be more detrimental”, they speculated. But they added more evidence was needed.

The data bolster the idea that media exposure is a public health issue, said Dr Dimitri Christakis, a child development specialist at the Seattle Children’s Hospital who wrote