Study: Some cartoons are bad for children's brains
September 12th, 2011
12:01 AM ET

Study: Some cartoons are bad for children's brains

Some children's television shows may be bad for young kid's brains according to a new study about watching cartoons. It appears that children may not concentrate and focus very well after watching fast-paced programming.

Researchers from the University of Virginia showed 60 4-year olds a 9-minute chunk of what they call an "animated kitchen sponge" cartoon. The experts then tested the children's memory and thinking skills and compared their scores to other youngsters, who had watched a slow-paced educational cartoon or drew pictures with crayons and markers.

The pre-schoolers who watched the fast-paced shows did much worse on the thinking tests than those in the  two other groups, who scored about the same. The researchers suspect that the brain gets overtaxed or tired from all of the stimulation from the fast-paced cartoons leading to lower scores.

But what this means for children long term is still an open question. Several other studies have found a link between heavy television viewing and problems with children's attention spans, especially in young children, while others have not. Some researchers are concerned, however, because the ability to concentrate and not get distracted often shapes how well children do in school. Preschoolers watch at least 90 minutes of TV a day, according to the study, but other researchers estimate young kids watch between two and five hours of TV daily.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends parents "limit children's total media time (with entertainment media) to no more than 1 to 2 hours of quality programming per day" and "discourage television viewing for children younger than 2 years" entirely.

This new study is published in the journal Pediatrics, which is a publication of the AAP.

"We can't tell you definitively from a scientific standpoint what the long-term effects are, but this one small study – if it's confirmed – is suggestive that this could be a real problem," explains Dr. Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at the University of Washington in Seattle and author of an editorial in Pediatrics.

Christakis and other researchers say, that when children's brains, which are still developing, are bombarded with too much stimulation, it can interfere with their ability to learn to focus properly. He suggests that parents keep an eye on what their children are watching.

"The point of this study and a lot of other research in media is that what your kids watch is as important as how much they watch. It's not just about turning off the television, it's about changing the channel," says Christakis.

Nickelodeon, owned by Viacom International, which produces the cartoon "SpongeBob SquarePants," released the following statement to CNN when asked about the study. "Having 60 non-diverse kids, who are not part of the show's targeted demo, watch 9 minutes of programming is questionable methodology. It could not possibly provide the basis for any valid findings that parents could trust."  It pointed out that the SpongeBob cartoon is designed for 6- to 11-year-olds, not 4-year olds, like the children used in the new study.

But Christakis says the research methodology is solid and though the study is small, its design is stronger than previous research and the findings are significant.

"The important take home message here is that the content of viewing actually matters. Many, many parents have rules about the quantity of programming their children watch but far fewer have restrictions on what they watch," says Christakis.

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soundoff (1,046 Responses)
  1. harvey

    Even as a kid I thought cartoons were rubbish. Even though I own a boob tube, I would much rather go outside and have fun than waste my life away watching the drivel they pass off as entertainment.

    September 12, 2011 at 09:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • EPortland

      Herp Derp Herp

      September 12, 2011 at 12:06 | Report abuse |
    • ready

      oh look eportland showed us hes a fat basement nerd, thanks for letting us know

      September 12, 2011 at 12:10 | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Hey look, ready has shown us he is an assumptive, elitist moron who lacks any capacity for logical or reasonable thought as he makes an statement about someone he doesnt even know. At leastIi can address your post, what exactly did eportland say to you that led to YOUR conclusion.

      Maybe it was the smug announcement the op had made alluding to the fact that he was the only person who gets out of the house. Another...look at me I am better than all of you...mwuhahahahah!


      September 12, 2011 at 12:53 | Report abuse |
    • MichaelT808

      taking it a bit further, . . . . when I was a kid, cartoons were a Saturday morning thing only. A few hours every Sat. morning, not the 'round the clock babysitter' they are now. Wake up early Sat. morning, have breakfast, watch a few cartoons, then outside to play. Now it's cartoons, video games, more cartoons, even more video games. Depending on where you live, think about the last time you saw lots of neighborhood kids outside playing together (not including handheld video games, or phones). . . . . It will never happen, but, I'd love to see a return to the Saturday morning cartoons. But the times will keep on changing, as they should and will. . . . because when they stop changing..............

      September 12, 2011 at 13:30 | Report abuse |
    • bob

      If your such a real world person what r u doing on lame forums ?

      September 12, 2011 at 14:00 | Report abuse |
    • Outside kids

      Hey Steve, In my NJ neighborhood, kids watch TV on Saturday mornings, have breakfast, do homework, then go outside and play. The pay basketball, soccer, chalk on the sidewalk, play running bases. As long as they're outside they're happy! As a matter of fact, on any given weekday, the kids come home from school, have snack, do homework, and go outside and play. On any given morning, 5-8 kids from the neighborhood meet on the corner and bike to school. It (the old way) exists out there – wherever parents are willing to use good judgment and enforce the rules!

      September 12, 2011 at 14:09 | Report abuse |
    • Outside kids

      Sorry, my response was supposed to be to MichaelT808 .

      September 12, 2011 at 14:11 | Report abuse |
    • Joe here in Colorado

      My son has watched tons of SpongeBob, since he was 2. He is not only in advanced math and advanced reading, but he was 2nd place in last year's school spelling bee, was the only child in his school to score "Advanced" on all three categories of state standardized testing, is amazing at soccer, and will blow your mind on the piano. So, yeap, this study blows barnacles!

      September 12, 2011 at 14:12 | Report abuse |
    • john

      you sound vastly superior to the rest of us. kudos to you for being so amazing. God forbid you enjoy a cartoon as a kid.

      September 12, 2011 at 14:29 | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      Television can be fine. I personally think the popularity of reality television shows just how dumb people but, I shouldn't judge as I like sci-fi crap and Anime. But its like with anything else, too much is not good. I hardly ever watch regular TV these days. Netflix and movies.

      My kids get to watch a movie on "family movie night." And a little bit on sat/sun, otherwise it turned off.

      September 12, 2011 at 14:33 | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      how dumb people *are*.

      September 12, 2011 at 14:34 | Report abuse |
  2. Santa Claus

    A child that watches slow EDUCATIONAL programming does better on a test than a child that watches something non-education?

    I'm glad we have a government funded study to tell us these things. What's next? Is water wet? Fire is hot?

    September 12, 2011 at 09:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joseph

      Clearly your grammar is evidence that you've watched one too many fast-paced uneducational cartoons yourself.

      September 12, 2011 at 13:49 | Report abuse |
    • Billy

      Right on Santa! Down with University research! Honestly, though, it looks like some kids had nothing better to research for their grad-school study, and yanked this subject from their you-know-what. The Nickelodeon quote is actually pretty accurate when it comes to a scientific perspective. This "experiment" is not really sound, and smells of amateurism. My guess is CNN went out looking for a backing to their question of "are cartoons bad? should kids watch more cnn?" or something along those lines and their research found this University research. Ya it's "government funded" but it probably wasn't sold as breakthrough science. Report Card Grade C+.

      September 12, 2011 at 14:21 | Report abuse |
  3. Barack Like Me

    What a load. You can't conclude anything from testing 60 preschool kids, especially when you're contrasting a show created with visual and script humor that is aimed above their level with an educational show written and designed for their abilities. Given the recent revelation of his tampering with the data in his Baby Einstein studies, Christakis' work should be taken with enough grains of salt to stock a McDonald's franchise.

    September 12, 2011 at 09:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • k

      lol...and if the 60 kids had no effect then you'd be saying "see...it doesn't matter".

      Take it for what it's worth...seems rather straight forward to me.

      September 12, 2011 at 10:06 | Report abuse |
    • Stefanie Gomez

      Television is the most hypnotic light. Television screens flicker over 60times a second and our brains can only read 10 of those flickers. Scientifically, it makes sense. You give anyone a fast pace program, with lots of cuts and quick music, and bright colors; your brain speeds up to keep up. Then to suddenly sit down and try to do math? It's gonna be hard because your brain was so highly stimulated to so much information that solely is done by visuals that once you try to switch on your brain for hard thinking, it'll be very hard to do that right away. That's why you don't study with the tv on. Now for smaller children, being so young as they are, it makes sense that it would effect them since they are sponges of information.

      I feel as long as a child is watching a decent amount of EDUCATIONAL programming, then I wouldn't be too concerned.

      September 12, 2011 at 11:09 | Report abuse |
    • digital123213

      @Stefanie Gomez

      Actually you can see about 50-60...

      September 12, 2011 at 14:32 | Report abuse |
  4. Capt. Obvious

    Of course its not good for 4 year olds, the show is made for stoned college kids.
    The study is not about Sponge Bob, its about fast paced shows and the age group. Nickelodeon is stupid to attack the study- they should simply point out that it is not the intended age group. They let their hyprocracy show.

    September 12, 2011 at 10:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. jay h

    Looks like another scarey headline grab.

    So, did they test the kids right after viewing the cartoon? And that proves what, that they were highly distracted by a fast paced experience? Does that relate in any way to actual development? Or is it just that they were mentally a bit tired after that action? (might not be a bad thing at all)

    they might try comparing the distraction level of the cartoon to other activities: test the kids after a rambunctious game of tag, or romp with the family dog.

    September 12, 2011 at 10:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Steve

      Exactly...wind the kids up then give them a test....let them calm down and then test them again and then compare the results and say that one is better than the other even though the two activities are not really associated. Yes, its both TV programs...both DESIGNED to ellicit different responses. Anyone who cant see that just lacks a basic education in how to conduct scientific studies.

      This study is apples and oranges.

      September 12, 2011 at 12:56 | Report abuse |
    • rufus

      In a companion study, they found that children were more likely to turn out gay after watching this show repeatedly. Mission accomplished!

      September 12, 2011 at 13:47 | Report abuse |
  6. NYer in NJ

    Or better yet: no TV at all for kids! Our kids do not watch TV and they are perfectly happy and do not feel deprived. And they all do great in school. We have never ever regretted our decision not to let them watch TV. There are better ways to keep them occupied.

    September 12, 2011 at 10:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • pattysboi

      So you would deny them Sesame Street, or anything from PBS, such as the incredible Ken Burns? How sad. How utterly pathetic.

      September 12, 2011 at 11:24 | Report abuse |
    • Snirk

      $20 says your kids are weirdos

      September 12, 2011 at 12:37 | Report abuse |
    • Lua

      I don't have a child of my own but I do have a step daughter. She isn't allowed to watch TV at my house because that is all she does at her mother's house (and then mom wonders why her daughter is overweight!) When she is at my house we do activities I teach my children at school, we work on making word family words, we paint, play with clay, and much to her dismay, we go outside and play (she really hates that! Especially the part where I teach her to ride her bike). Kids today are lazy because they watch too much television and they play too many video games. My step daughter is four and she craves the educational attention I give her! If you want to let technology into your child's life, choose something interactive and educational, like http://www.starfall.com (She's four and I have taught her to read and do addition problems with manipulatives and we enrich those activities with starfall and she LOVES it). Enjoy the cartoons on your own when the kiddos are in bed 😉

      September 12, 2011 at 12:48 | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Hmmmm...my child watches TV and does better than fine in school. I am not sure TV is the issue, I think parenting is a far more influential and failed activity in America.

      September 12, 2011 at 12:59 | Report abuse |
    • NatR

      oh GOD here come the weirdos. I have been watching TV since I can remember. In fact my mom says i started watching Tom and jerry at age 4months. And here is the surprise, i turned out to be an A student and now have a great white colar job with a high pay. So did TV affect me in any way? H**l no! In fact i have a 1 year old and she's allowed to watch and guess what again, she's the smartest among her peers in daycare. so as long as they do their homework they will be fine. of course if TV is taking away from study time they wont do well. balance their time btw tv and studies.

      September 12, 2011 at 13:54 | Report abuse |
  7. JT

    Get back to me when this same experiment has been run with 1000 children and more variation in activity. Was it the same 9 minute clip for all entire test group? Wouldn't it make sense to vary the footage so you know it wasn't a loaded clip and that any 9 minute sample would have the same effect?

    September 12, 2011 at 10:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Paul Ronco

      >> Get back to me when this same experiment has been run with 1000 children and more variation in activity.

      I think the researchers probably know how to construct controls.

      September 12, 2011 at 13:17 | Report abuse |
    • CWD

      Several flaws with the study:

      1. Nickelodeon reps were right about the sample being the target audience. If it's meant for 6 to 12-year-olds, the experimenter should not have used it.

      2. There's no mention of the demographic breakdown (by SES, race, gender, etc.), SES is a known extraneous variable when it comes to experiments involving any type of cognition, as those with a low SES may have underdeveloped brains in the first place, which may have led to the large amount of variance between the control group and the experimental group.

      3. Let's see the statistics. How significant were the findings, mathematically speaking? Mean score for each group? Standard deviations? The difference between a great study and a load of hogwash lies in the statistics.

      4. Increase the sample size. I know, 60 participants should yield a significant result (anything over 30 is considered a "good sample" in the psych world) but using at least 200 should minimize the chance of a Type I error.

      5. Get consistent data. According to this article, results on television and attention are mixed. This shouldn't happen. Find the extraneous variable, control for it, and get significant, replicable data.

      6. Two words: LONGITUDINAL STUDY. Great, so we know (or believe) that kids perform poorly after watching fast-paced cartoons. How does this affect them in the long run? From what I can see, there's very little external validity in this study; most children I know don't perform significant cognitive tasks after watching TV.

      September 12, 2011 at 14:32 | Report abuse |
  8. iamthefredman

    SpongeBob Squarepants is not suitable for any HUMAN of any AGE.

    September 12, 2011 at 11:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kard

      I love Spongebob.

      September 12, 2011 at 13:39 | Report abuse |
    • Toni

      I agree. Sponge Bob is a bad influence on kids. I have a 7 year old sister, and I can't believe some of the stuff she's picked up from watching that cartoon. And by-the-by, she's been watching it since age 3. The girl can QUOTE any Sponge Bob episode word for word.

      September 12, 2011 at 14:02 | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Kinda disturbing, since my kids have watched it for a similar span, and still know the difference between SpongeBob and reality.

      September 12, 2011 at 14:08 | Report abuse |
  9. Grendelmon

    Most Nickelodia shows are garbage anyway. The exceptions I think would be Blues Clues and possibly Wonder Pets. My little girl is really only allowed to watch shows that are on PBS such as Super Why, Sid the Science Kid, etc. I don't let her watch Spongebob, period.

    September 12, 2011 at 11:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Grendelmon

      Oops Nickelodia = Nickelodeon

      September 12, 2011 at 11:59 | Report abuse |
  10. fitzroy ducreay

    I have no problem with children looking at cartoon. Parents must have control however on selecting programmes thier children view. children tend to display less attentiveness when parents talk to them. I think we some times over load our children with too much cartoon that does nothing for their school work. I believe 1 hour per day watching an educational cartoon program is enough for children.

    September 12, 2011 at 12:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Paul Ronco

    Spongebob is trash and any idiot should know it, if for no other reason than because of the name alone.

    September 12, 2011 at 13:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Laura

    Poor spongebob can't get a break.

    September 12, 2011 at 13:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Abbyka

    Oh please. I grew up with Ren and Stimpy and I turned out FINE. My kids watch cartoons all day long when they're home and my 6 year old still reads at a 4th grade level, math at 2nd grade level, and writing at 3rd grade level. Cartoons don't make kids idiots, it's parents that don't take the time to sit down with their kids for a few minutes every few hours to challenge their child. I'll be cooking or something and ask my son out of nowhere to solve a math problem or to sit down and read to me as I cook, so even if you don't actually SIT with them you can still challenge them(I do put down what I'm doing if he seems to be having trouble with the question!).

    September 12, 2011 at 13:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. poppapa

    Although the show's producers state that the show isn't designed for 4 year olds – the point is that parents are letting their 4 year olds watch the show. Parents need to know that just like feeding your kids sugary snacks, junky fast food and sodas, certain forms of entertainment are also "empty calories" if not actually harmful – such as the study finds. It's all about being fully informed.

    September 12, 2011 at 13:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. larry

    If you don't want to parent your children just put them in front of a TV, give them a computer game, anything other than spending time with them yourself. The TV can be very useful especially if they are in the way and you have more important things to do.

    September 12, 2011 at 13:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • STLMom

      Larry - Are you saying that turning the television on for my toddler to keep him distracted while I prepare dinner in the kitchen is telling my son that my cooking a nutritious home made dinner rather than driving through McDonalds is more important than spending time with him? There are just some times that a parent needs to accomplish important tasks - such as cooking dinner, where at that moment a television program is the only thing that will allow a parent to accomplish this equally important task. You are TOO bold to claim that allowing children to watch tv is saying that parents feel other activities are MORE important than their child. If you have any advice on getting a home cooked meal on the table with a toddler running around your feet please speak up.

      September 12, 2011 at 14:10 | Report abuse |
    • Johnny

      I wonder how parents cooked dinner with a toddler in the house during the pre-TV era.

      September 12, 2011 at 14:34 | Report abuse |
    • kirstyloo

      I will point out that both Larry and Jonny appear to be men. I'd also ask whether they make dinner. Yes, mom's did cook before TV, but they also had fewer outside responsiblities (e.g., full-time work, taking Jr to outside activties). In addition, junior used to be able to go outside in the afternoon/evening and just play. I have a toddler daughter and our yard/street isn't safe for her without an adult there all of the time.

      September 12, 2011 at 16:01 | Report abuse |
  16. Neeneko

    Wait.. when did taxing your brain become a bad thing? Tracking complex movement and plot elements takes a lot of mental work, but it is useful mental exercise.

    So what is next, reading is bad because one relaxes and thus does worse at high speed testing? How about exercise because doing math and english with a runner's high is more difficult?

    Any activity that requires intense focus within its domain is going to cause decreased capabilities in other domains. These cartoons require brainpower to process and the brain needs time to switch gears if you are going to test them in another domain right after they are in that gear.

    September 12, 2011 at 13:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Joe

    Another study telling us what's dangerous for kids...gimme a break. I grew up on Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck so by this study I should be a vegetable. Instead I got straight A's in school, am a member of Mensa. The correlation between TV and learning is zilch.

    September 12, 2011 at 13:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Barry

      I grew up on Bugs, Daffy, Elmer, Tweety and all of the other Warner Bros. Cartoons I give them credit for my love of classical music and opera. I also knew that none of the stuff on a cartoon was real and could never happen in real life. It was the same with slapstick comedy, ie, The Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy, Little Rascals. I see the programs that pass for kid's entertainment today and I have no problem understanding why most of todays kids and their parents cannot put an intelligent sentence together.

      September 12, 2011 at 13:50 | Report abuse |
    • kirstyloo

      There is a literature beyond this that looks at the effects of TV on children's learning and overall health. There is a fair amount of evidence that watching more TV is less healthy. 9 minutes wouldn't hurt you. If you read the article, it stated that they think most children in this age group get at least 2 hours of media. Other studies suggest that number is between 2-5 hours. I guess that your brilliant mind doesn't need to read.

      September 12, 2011 at 16:05 | Report abuse |
  18. Bob

    They need to watch "Itchy & Scratchy.".

    September 12, 2011 at 13:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Doreen Pettipas

    It would be more believable if they had tested the kids prior to watching the show and after. Who knows, the kids that were watching the faster paced show may have issues with attention already. They didn't mention testing their skills before the tv viewing. Really would be helpful to know if they were already kids that had difficulties with attention span to begin with.

    September 12, 2011 at 13:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Debbie

    I think we have to balance out TV and play time. If you think about cartoons for example, a lot of them are violent. Some animated character is trying to hurt another or bully another. This is a time to teach values. I also believe that as parents we have control over what programs our children watch.

    September 12, 2011 at 13:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. palintwit

    Well. This certainly explains why the Palins are such idiots.

    September 12, 2011 at 13:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • trigtwit... America's favorite tard baby

      ... drool, slobber ...

      September 12, 2011 at 13:30 | Report abuse |
    • bristoltwit... America's favorite dancing cow

      ...snort.....mooo. Will someone please milk me?

      September 12, 2011 at 13:34 | Report abuse |
    • Janie paynie

      Palintwit: that comment is even stupider than the palins kids.

      September 12, 2011 at 14:40 | Report abuse |
  22. unknownhost

    I can honestly say even before this study i was well aware spongebob was already making our kids retarded.

    September 12, 2011 at 13:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Jen

    Mixed kids are so cute!

    September 12, 2011 at 13:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Vlngrl

    I grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons..when they used to be on ALL morning. Vintage Bugs Bunny and Wile E. Coyote aren't any worse than Spongebob. Frankly vintage Looney Tunes isn't all that appropriate, either. Maybe Wile was OK because the images were slower? He never was any good at getting the Road Runner...

    September 12, 2011 at 13:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. guy

    Rocky and Bullwinkle were fine:)

    September 12, 2011 at 13:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Scott

    I bet they would also do worse on these tests immediately after being woke up in the middle of the night, but I'm not worried that sleeping is harming my kid.

    September 12, 2011 at 13:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. ANN

    A Childs response to spongbob or any given stimuli is completely individual. This study is simply unreal. Example. Some children are severely beaten and respond by being obedient, that same child's sibling may become violent and lash out. When I was a kid we all watched looney tunes and sesame street and we all turned out differently.Some became lawyers and doctors, some became factory and office workers , some became actresses, models and musicians. and some became drug addicts. This study is a waste of time and I'm sure a lot of money.

    September 12, 2011 at 13:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Kristi

    Cartoons and kid's movies are so fast-paced its no wonder children cannot focus on anything if its not racing at break-neck speed or screaming at the top of its lungs. Look back at the old cartoons and movies and you'll see a noticeable difference.

    September 12, 2011 at 13:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Steven Kirsh, Author of "Media and Youth"

    What we can conclude from this study is that children perform worse on cognitive tests after engaging in a stimulating activity, relative to a less stimulating one. One cannot conclude that the findings are limited to cartoons, as they could equally apply to any form of stimulation, such as playing outside or riding a bike. In other words, kids have a harder time calming down and focusing on a test after they do something exciting. That is not surprising. The study needed to have a group of kids engage in a stimulating non-media-related activity to see if cartoons were the culprit or stimulation in general. To date, there really are no well conducted studies that show that cartoons or TV lead to long-term attention problems in children. That is a myth.

    September 12, 2011 at 13:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Billy

      Excellent comment

      September 12, 2011 at 14:37 | Report abuse |
  30. ANN

    I don't care what the study says, I'm watching Family Guy until i die!!!!

    September 12, 2011 at 13:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Billy

      That's what Stewie said and look at him!

      September 12, 2011 at 14:33 | Report abuse |
  31. Doreen Pettipas

    My 11 yr old with ADHD and Autism Spectrum disorder actually calms down when she watches tv. It helps her re-direct herself from whatever was causing her meltdown. So if it means not having 4 hour meltdowns, yes my child can watch tv.

    September 12, 2011 at 13:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Serg

    I grew up watching shows like Cheech & Chong and Beavis & Butthead because of my older cousins. Now I am a well-paid electrical engineer at a high tech company in California while working towards a masters degree.

    Parents and schools should start doing a better job instead of blaming TV. Watching TV doesn't make you dumb. TV just wastes time which could be used to do more useful stuff.

    September 12, 2011 at 13:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. smm

    ROFL! wow, they get all that from showing 60 four year old kids 9 minutes of spongebob! how many of those idiots have a four year old i wonder. i am amazed they could get one four year old to sit still and concentrate on the 9 minutes of cartoon, let alone anything after it, but multiplied by SIXTY!? did they do it in smaller batches or did they have each of the 60 kids alone or what? because you cannot put 2 kids in front of spongebob at any age, let alone that young, and get them to make any kind of sense after watching it,lol. i'm with nickelodeon on this one, there is no way they can make the assumptions they are based on 9 minutes of spongebob. even dr. christakis puts a caveat on it, the study is unconfirmed and they can't say what the long term effects are. such as, some, lots or NONE. jeebus crispies, these folks need to go away. ppl WILL raise some children to be morons, no matter what the state nannies do or say. it's not the t.v. or the music or the video games, it's the parents. some get it, some don't. how much longer before humans are slapped with breeding restrictions?

    September 12, 2011 at 13:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. A Parent

    I feel using only 60 non-diverse preschoolers to do a study that says cartoons are bad for kids is too few. A reliable study should have a few thousand diverse children but those children should also be tested before they are put in the study. Also, how did they test them? While I understand and agree that lots of TV time is bad for children of all ages, I believe it also up to the parents to decide what the children will watch and when. If the parents can't think for themselves, perhaps they shouldn't have children at all.

    September 12, 2011 at 13:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Herp


    September 12, 2011 at 13:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • trigtwit... America's favorite tard baby


      September 12, 2011 at 13:59 | Report abuse |
  36. Amom

    This just in...kids who watch too much fast paced cartoons grow up to star in Jersey Shore. Or is it parents who watch Jersey Shore let their kids watch too much fast paced cartoons?

    September 12, 2011 at 13:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. KindaSorta

    I blame commercials!

    September 12, 2011 at 13:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. KevinB

    As I read Nickelodeon’s response, I see an effort being made to defend their programming rather than making any attempt to consider the possibility that they’re negatively impacting the minds of our kids, and clearly no willingness to considering any measure of improvement. Nickelodeon’s argument amounts to a diversionary tactic that’s completely irrelevant to the premise of this study, and therefore disappointing. If this is the best they can do, block their channel parents. They’ve lost my trust.

    September 12, 2011 at 14:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. whomanchu

    Coincidence? Sponge Bob cartoon depicted global warming, Fox news and other conservative media complained it was teaching children about global warming, now a few months later, a study indicates Sponge Bob is bad for children. I'd laugh if the study was funded by Exxon Mobile, or the Koch Brothers.

    September 12, 2011 at 14:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Jimmy-James

    A statement issued by a group slated to lose the most about a study's "questionable methodology" when said study is performed by experts in their field leaves not only "questionable clout" for said group (Nickelodeon) but also "unquestionable greed" in the face of damaging children.

    September 12, 2011 at 14:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Venusian

    God forbid a child watches TV while thier parents are busy cooking, cleaning, or bathing. It's a travesty. Reminds me of the creepy kids that lived across the street when I was little. They weren't allowed to watch anything. 2 of the 4 kids were caught molesting others in the neighborhood.

    September 12, 2011 at 14:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. disgruntled worker

    It never seemed to affect my kids!

    September 12, 2011 at 14:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Joe here in Colorado

    My son has watched tons of SpongeBob, since he was 2. He is not only in advanced math and advanced reading, but he was 2nd place in last year's school spelling bee, was the only child in his school to score "Advanced" on all three categories of state standardized testing, is amazing at soccer, and will blow your mind on the piano. So, yeap.

    September 12, 2011 at 14:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Billy

      So no Sponge Bob will get you first in the spelling bee?

      September 12, 2011 at 14:31 | Report abuse |
  44. Indy Jim

    When i was a kid, we opted for a fast paced comedy about 3 Brothers who were always getting into trouble and smacking each other around. 5 days a week of the 3 Stooges after school does a brain good. 40 years later, I still find humor in the stupidest things, making life a lot more enjoyable.

    But I agree with what others have said, used to be Saturday morning for cartoons, and then off to play. I coach youth baseball, and kids are 13 years old but can hardly play catch because they don't play unless it is organized sports. No more Sandlot, that is for sure.

    September 12, 2011 at 14:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. michelle

    This is a no-brainer; I had this one figured out for myself, thanks.

    September 12, 2011 at 14:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Emily

    @MichaelT808 – I agree. As a kid II looked forward to saturday mornings. My parents were still asleep and I had the tv to myself to watch my cartoons. After that i got ready to go outside and play.
    Today is ridiculous, after school programming for kids takes them away from what kids should be doing, going outside and play after a long day of sitting at school.
    No wonder obesity rates are going up everywhere in the western world.

    September 12, 2011 at 14:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Julie

    This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone – TV moves at a faster pace than real life, so those who watch too much of it or get too involved with it lose perspective on this aspect of reality.
    Small kids are going to be more susceptable to this b/c they're kids and haven't got the foundations of how things work in real life down yet. they try to process at the machine-gun speed of much entertainment. And it doesn't work well very often.
    I'm middle-aged and have been watching cartoons all my life. 'Toons are different now than they were – I watched Warner Bros. 'toons, the old Scooby-Doo, Flintstones, stuff like that. Even as a kid I sensed something unsettling about ones like Rocky & Bullwinkle – it was faster, more cynical, sketchier, sharper than the others. Alot of 'toons today are like that – I think they're more adult in it's smarmy cynicism, more like a political cartoon in the way the images flash on the screen,. The older 'toons like Warner Bros managed to appeal to both adults and kids and tell something more like a story, Scooby-Doo was prep for adult mystery dramas.
    My point is, that I think many 'toons are not for kids. Spongebob is kind of borderline really, if I had a small kid I'm not sure I'd want him/her to watch it.
    Parents need to be careful about 'toons, many of them, esp. nowadays, are way too much for small kids.

    September 12, 2011 at 14:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Johnny

      "Rocky and Bullwinkle" was designed for adults and often made fun of the Cold War environment we were living in during the 60's. That may be what you found unsettling.

      September 12, 2011 at 14:39 | Report abuse |
  48. syzito

    Oh please another "experts" opinion that in reality has about as much to do with the real world as the cartoons they are criticizing.

    September 12, 2011 at 14:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Dee

    Sponge Bob is not a good show and it doesn't matter what the age is. 1 month to 18 years of age...it's a stupid show and it helps to dumb down our children. The very fact that they even had to do a study on this is ridiculous. Like the study they did to advise the american people that playing violent video games desensitizes kids....well DUH! You would think they would take the money they are wasting on senseless studies like this and use it towards job creation or paying down our debt.

    September 12, 2011 at 14:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Janie paynie

    so, 20 kids in each group? That's an exhaustive study! Looks like these researchers set out to prove their own theories. It is also possible that the kids brains were still processing all the information (not just tired). Just as when a muscle gets exercised, oit takes a bit of time to rest before performing at top level on the next exercise, this may acutally prove the kids brains got more "exercise" than coloring or watching the slow paced program. Therefore, spongebob is exercise for the brain.

    September 12, 2011 at 14:35 | Report abuse | Reply
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