Report: Fast-Paced Cartoons Like ‘SpongeBob’ May Harm Children’s Brains

Sep 12, 2011  •  Post A Comment

Fast-paced animated programs such as "SpongeBob SquarePants" may be harming children’s brains, reports Bloomberg, citing a study published in the journal Pediatrics.

Four-year-old kids who tuned in to nine minutes of "SpongeBob," which airs on Viacom’s Nickelodeon network, performed only half as well on tasks as children who spent the same amount of time drawing or watching "Caillou," a PBS educational program, the story says.

Fast-paced programs may "over-stimulate the brain, making it harder to trigger executive function, a process used to complete tasks," the story notes, citing Angeline Lillard, the lead author of the study and a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia. She said it’s unclear how long the effect lasts.

“It may be that children recover quickly. Certainly, immediately after, there was a strong impact particularly on the most challenging tasks," Lillard said, according to the piece.

A typical preschooler spends about four-and-a-half hours per day watching TV or DVDs, the story says.

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