NEWS FLASH: Some cartoons may be bad for your child’s brain. SpongeBob SquarePants the cartoon is at the center of a controversy. A new study that was published in the journal Pediatrics, suggests that watching certain cartoons can cause attention problems. Researchers from the University of Virginia conducted a study using 60 4-year olds and allowed them to watch a 9-minute clip of a SpongeBob cartoon. Then the children were showed a clip of a PBS show called Caillou. Immediately after watching the cartoon these 60 children were given tests. Specifically, these tests had to do with 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. The kids who watched SpongeBob and its fast paced animation scored far lower than the kids who watched the slower paced PBS show. The study shows that those children who watched the high paced cartoons were overtaxed or tired from all of the stimulation. Many people have dvd players in the car and they advise that it would definitely not be a good idea to allow your children to watch high paced animation shows on the way to school or any time they’re expected to pay attention and learn because it can affect their day. Clearly, this study just involves short term memory but could these shows have a long term affect on our children?
As always, 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” they also “discourage television viewing for children younger than 2 years” altogether. For the past 15 years, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has expressed its concerns about the amount of time childrenand adolescents spend viewing television and the content of whatthey view.1 According to recent Nielsen Media Research data, the averagechild or adolescent watches an average of nearly 3 hours of televisionper day.2 This figure does not include time spent watching videotapes orplaying video games. Discourage television viewing for children younger than 2 years, and encourage more interactive activities that will promoteproper brain development, such as talking, playing, singing, andreading together. How long do you let your children watch TV? How do you feel about this study?