A new study suggests SpongeBob is a menace to kids' attention spans, but he won't be disappearing anytime soon from the TV screens in Mary Elizabeth Williams' house. "The study—and the response to it—say much about adult expectations of children," she writes in Salon. Kids who can stay quiet and still are praised as angels. "But most 4-year-olds, mercifully, are a lot more like SpongeBob," she writes. They like to have a little fun. "That's part of why SpongeBob is such a delight—he's eminently relatable."
It's all about balance. Good parents can let their kids watch some SpongeBob (the show is "freaking genius," after all) and mix in the "mindfood" later. "In childhood there's a time to draw quietly with crayons, and a there is a time to run around like a nut," writes Williams. "And parents, if you're looking for a sweet, realistic role model for a 4-year-old, you'll do just fine with the guy who just happens to be absorbent and yellow and porous." Click to read the full column. (Read more SpongeBob stories.)