NPR logo Sorry, What Did You Say? SpongeBob Is Bad For Kids' Brains?

Sorry, What Did You Say? SpongeBob Is Bad For Kids' Brains?

SpongeBob Squarepants. Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Nickelodeon hide caption

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Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Nickelodeon

SpongeBob Squarepants.

Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Nickelodeon

The good folks over at the Shots blog will have more to report about this, but we just couldn't wait to pass on word that:

"The cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants is in hot water from a study suggesting that watching just nine minutes of that program can cause short-term attention and learning problems in 4-year-olds." (The Associated Press)

It seems, according to research published online today by the journal Pediatrics, that in a very small study of 4-year-olds, researchers found that kids who had just watched 9 minutes of SpongeBob's show didn't do as well on some tests as kids who had spent that time watching a slower-paced show or drawing.

Nickelodeon, which broadcasts SpongeBob, points out that the show is aimed at children ages 6 to 11, not pre-schoolers. And spokesman David Bittler questioned the study's methodology — especially the fact that just 60 children were studied.

We'll let Shots sort this out, and turn our admittedly short attention span back to other things.

Update at 1:15 p.m. ET: The Shots post is now up. As Nancy Shute writes, "the new study comes with a boatload of caveats."

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