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.

Follow @CNNHealth on Twitter

soundoff (1,046 Responses)
  1. collision center of temecula


    May 13, 2021 at 04:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. agen judi togel

    I have been browsing online more than three hours today, yet I never
    found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth enough
    for me. In my view, if all site owners and bloggers
    made good content as you did, the internet will be much more
    useful than ever before.

    May 13, 2021 at 04:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. poker depo pulsa

    Hi, its fastidious article regarding media print, we all be familiar with media is a wonderful source of facts.

    May 13, 2021 at 06:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. seats near me


    May 13, 2021 at 07:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. data togel china

    I used to be suggested this website through my cousin. I am now not positive whether or not this publish
    is written by him as nobody else know such detailed approximately my trouble.
    You are wonderful! Thank you!

    My webpage data togel china

    May 13, 2021 at 07:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. RV Collision Repair Orange County


    May 13, 2021 at 11:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. bus paint shop

    Good post. I learn something new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It will always be useful to read content from other authors and use something from their websites.


    May 13, 2021 at 11:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. lightning

    On the Boeings I fly, we have direct and accurate control over
    temperature, but only indirect control over flow.

    Feel free to visit my webpage lightning

    May 13, 2021 at 14:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Kgf

    Link exchange is nothinng else but it is just placing the other person's web
    siute link on your age at suitable place and other person will also do same for you.

    May 13, 2021 at 15:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Mercedes Benz Collision Repair Sprinter Van


    May 13, 2021 at 19:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. truck shop oc

    I have to thank you for the efforts you have put in penning this blog. I really hope to check out the same high-grade blog posts by you in the future as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my own, personal website now 😉


    May 13, 2021 at 19:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. rv repair places near me


    May 13, 2021 at 20:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. rv collision repair near me


    May 13, 2021 at 20:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Sprinter Fuel Filler Pipe Repair

    I love it when folks get together and share thoughts. Great blog, continue the good work!


    May 13, 2021 at 21:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Chevy Express Van Repair

    Good day! I simply would like to offer you a big thumbs up for your excellent information you've got here on this post. I'll be coming back to your blog for more soon.


    May 14, 2021 at 01:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. vach ngan compact

    I'm really inspired with your writing abilities and also
    with the format to your weblog. Is this a paid topic or did
    you customize it your self? Either way keep up the excellent high quality writing, it is rare to look
    a great weblog like this one these days..

    May 14, 2021 at 02:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. click here

    Hello, I enjoy reading through your article post.
    I wanted to write a little comment to support you.

    May 14, 2021 at 02:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. rv furniture san diego


    May 14, 2021 at 10:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. storno brzinol

    It’s really a great and useful piece of information. I am glad that you shared this useful info with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.


    May 14, 2021 at 13:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. homes for sale spokane river


    May 14, 2021 at 17:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. 2018 Maserati Levante S


    May 14, 2021 at 17:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. how to paint a horse trailer

    I was very happy to uncover this great site. I need to to thank you for your time due to this fantastic read!! I definitely savored every part of it and I have you book-marked to see new things on your site.


    May 14, 2021 at 20:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. house for sale near my location

    Very good write-up. I definitely love this site. Continue the good work!


    May 14, 2021 at 21:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. houses for sale around my location


    May 14, 2021 at 21:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Optometrist


    May 14, 2021 at 21:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Arizona's Vision


    May 15, 2021 at 00:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. 2017 Maserati Levante


    May 15, 2021 at 01:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Maserati Quattroporte Lease


    May 15, 2021 at 01:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. 2013 Maserati Granturismo Sport


    May 15, 2021 at 04:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. best car ac repair near me

    Spot on with this write-up, I truly think this web site needs much more attention. I’ll probably be returning to read more, thanks for the information!


    May 15, 2021 at 05:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. nearest houses for sale

    I’m amazed, I have to admit. Rarely do I encounter a blog that’s both educative and entertaining, and without a doubt, you've hit the nail on the head. The issue is something that too few folks are speaking intelligently about. Now i'm very happy I stumbled across this in my hunt for something relating to this.


    May 15, 2021 at 09:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. nearest trailer repair


    May 15, 2021 at 10:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. My Maserati Goes 185


    May 15, 2021 at 11:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. watch repair fullerton


    May 15, 2021 at 11:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. temecula tv repair


    May 15, 2021 at 12:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Optometrist Phoenix Az


    May 15, 2021 at 12:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Maserati Parts

    You've made some good points there. I checked on the net for more information about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this website.


    May 15, 2021 at 13:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. rv repair service

    Hello there, There's no doubt that your website may be having browser compatibility issues. Whenever I look at your web site in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in Internet Explorer, it's got some overlapping issues. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other than that, great website!


    May 15, 2021 at 14:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. slots

    Stunning story there. What occurred after?
    Take care!

    May 15, 2021 at 18:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Google Marketing Program

    There's certainly a great deal to find out about this subject. I love all the points you have made.


    May 15, 2021 at 19:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. situs taruhan bola terbaik

    Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally,
    it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point.
    You clearly know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your blog when you
    could be giving us something informative to

    May 15, 2021 at 21:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Video Marketing Pros

    Saved as a favorite, I like your site!


    May 15, 2021 at 21:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Internet Marketing Pros

    This is the perfect blog for everyone who hopes to find out about this topic. You know a whole lot its almost hard to argue with you (not that I actually will need to…HaHa). You definitely put a brand new spin on a topic that's been discussed for many years. Wonderful stuff, just great!


    May 16, 2021 at 00:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Social Media Marketing Job Orange County


    May 16, 2021 at 00:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Content Marketing Firm

    I'm pretty pleased to find this web site. I want to to thank you for your time for this fantastic read!! I definitely liked every bit of it and i also have you saved as a favorite to check out new stuff in your site.


    May 16, 2021 at 02:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Seo Marketing Firm


    May 16, 2021 at 02:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Content Marketing Service


    May 16, 2021 at 05:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Sprinter Van Repair Shops Near Me


    May 16, 2021 at 10:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. generator repair san diego

    Howdy! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after going through some of the articles I realized it’s new to me. Regardless, I’m certainly delighted I came across it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back regularly!


    May 16, 2021 at 11:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Mercedes Sprinter Chasis Repair


    May 16, 2021 at 13:25 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

Leave a Reply to harvey


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.