He lives in a pineapple under the sea, and apparently he poses a threat to your kid’s attention span. Researchers showed one group of children a nine-minute SpongeBob SquarePants segment; another group watched a clip of the same length of an educational PBS show called Caillou; a third spent the time drawing. Then scientists tested the focusing abilities of each group of 4-year-olds. SpongeBob viewers' "ability to stay on task, to not be distracted" was significantly worse than that of the other two groups.
“Most parents worry too much about how much TV their children watch and not enough about what they watch,” said a pediatrician. “It’s not about turning the TV off. It’s about changing the channel.” But a Nickelodeon rep points out that the show is aimed at 6- to 11-year-olds, not the 4-year-olds in the study, who “are clearly not the intended demographic,” Today reports. (Read more kids television stories.)