posted 2011-10-05 13:40:41

Spongebob Squarepants Unfairly Targeted by Recent Study

Cynthia Perez

Contributing Writer

A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Virginia, had 4-year old children watch 9-minute segments of “Spongebob Squarepants”or “Caillou.”  Other children drew pictures with crayons and markers instead. After they were done watching the cartoons or drawing their pictures, the researchers had the children take exams that tested their memory and thinking skills.

According to the researchers, the preschoolers who watched the “Spongebob” segments performed worse on the thinking, memory and focus tests than those in the two other groups; the researchers argued that fast paced shows like “Spongebob Squarepants” overtired the children’s brains. But why single out Spongebob?

Why not also test the other types of fast-paced and slow-paced shows that are found on Nickelodeon, The Disney Channel, Cartoon Network or any other network that offers children programming?

Additionally, “Spongebob Squarepants” is not aimed for preschool-aged children; the target age group is from 6 to 11 years of age.

Nickelodeon spokesman David Bittler understood how I felt when he said, “Having 60 non-diverse kids, who are not part of the show’s targeted (audience), watch nine minutes of programming is questionable methodology and could not possibly provide the basis for any valid findings that parents could trust.”

The children in this study were predominantly white and middle- or upper-middle class. In a study, shouldn’t one try to aim for a large and diverse sample group to reflect the population?

Hunter College parents shouldn’t allow this study to discourage them from allowing their children to watch “Spongebob Squarepants.”  The show teaches children how to be imaginative, optimistic, to stay determined and many other positive human qualities. It may be absurd and fast-paced at times, but it also has an ability to reach children—as well as the inner-child in many adults. As long as kids watch in moderation, they should be fine and happy with Spongebob.