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SpongeBob Hurts Kids' Brains

Show weakens their ability to focus, research suggests
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 12, 2011 8:37 AM CDT
SpongeBob SquarePants Hurts Children's Attention Spans
A scene from the animated show "SpongeBob SquarePants,"   (AP Photo/Nickelodeon)

(Newser) – 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.

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“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.)

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