"SpongeBob" Under Fire

New study cites popular cartoon in attention problems in children.


Looks like SpongeBob SquarePants is not so funny when it comes to child development. A new American Academy of Pediatrics study published in the journal Pediatrics suggests that watching even just a few minutes of the popular cartoon show can cause short-term attention and learning problems in 4-year-olds, CBS News reports.

In the study, 60 4-year-olds were "randomly assigned to watch either 'SpongeBob,' or the slower-paced PBS show 'Caillou' or assigned to draw pictures," according to the CBS News report. Researchers showed the children nine minutes of each show and then immediately tested the kids for mental function. The findings revealed that the young children who watched "SpongeBob" scored the worst of the three groups.

An average children's cartoon TV show "typically feature 22 minutes of action, so watching a full program could be more detrimental," the researchers said, as quoted in the CBS News report.

It's not the first time that we've heard concerns about young children watching too much TV. Fit Pregnancy reported last year on a study that found too much boob tube means less time for children 2 and younger to develop their language skills.

For most moms today, it's almost impossible not to turn to a children's video or show for your little one in an effort to get a quiet minute in your day to pay a bill, do the laundry or even take a shower. Reduce your guilt by keeping these pointers in mind from our TV Guide for Tots, plus our handy list of tot-friendly shows and DVDs.

Maria Vega is Fit Pregnancy magazine's copy editor.