Too Soon For SpongeBob?

   By drodriguez  Sep 20, 2011

Most parents have heard the American Academy of Pediatrics suggestion that children under the age of 2 should not watch any amount of TV. But a lot of us are left in the dark when it comes to which children’s shows our young ones should be watching once they are of TV-viewing age.

For example, lots of parents are unsure which television programs will offer the most enrichment for our kids and which we should steer clear of until they’re a little older. A new study finds that it may be in your preschooler’s best interest to wait a couple of years before they find out “who lives in a pineapple under the sea”.

The study, published by the journal Pediatrics, worked with 3 groups of 4 year olds.  One group drew pictures for 9 minutes while the other two groups watched either 9 minutes of a PBS cartoon called Caillou or Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob cartoon.

Immediately afterwards all of the children were given tests. What researchers found was that the kids in the SpongeBob group were more easily distracted and unable to stay on task while taking the tests as the children who watched Caillou or drew pictures. Both the Caillou viewing group and those who drew pictures performed at about the same level on the tests.

It makes sense that the lightning-fast brightly colored world of SpongeBob might be too much to take in for a 4 year old while the much quieter low-key Caillou seems to be easier for them to handle.

Before we go banning all of Nickelodeon’s programs for our preschoolers though, in their defense they have recommended SpongeBob for an older audience. A recent report from MSNBC quotes a Nickelodeon spokesman, David Bitler, who says, “SpongeBob is produced for 6- to 11-year-olds. Four-year-olds are clearly not the intended demographic for this show.”

What do you think of the study that suggests SpongeBob hinders a 4 year olds ability to stay on task and focus?

Tell us which TV shows your preschooler loves to watch!

Make a Comment

Bryelee by Bryelee | Dover, DE
Oct 04, 2011

My kids are 10, 9 and 7 and they are not allowed to watch sponge bob, I just can't stand that much stupid on a cartoon. I wasn't surprised seeing the results of the study.

LukesMommy08 by LukesMommy08 | Mascot, TN
Oct 04, 2011

I let my son watch SpongeBob, he loves the show. I don't see anything wrong with the cartoon. I grew up watching cartoons like Looney Tunes and I didn't go around trying to hurt people because of it. You can't blame a cartoon for your children's bad behavior, maybe you need to look at yourself.

harrahv by harrahv | Dumfries, VA
Sep 30, 2011

My daughter is 7 and loves SpongeBob!!! I don't feel there is anything wrong with it. She is perfect in school...her school grades are amazing...I find it strictly entertainment!! (she hasn't lost any brain cells because of it!)

Kathymc420 by Kathymc420 | Chesterfield, MI
Sep 24, 2011

Hate Sponge Bob, but everyone else seems to let their kids watch it, so mine always see it. :(

jessb7 by jessb7 | Indio, CA
Sep 21, 2011

I'm a daycare provider and I can definitely see a difference in my daycare children that watch shows at home like Spongebob versus something like Dora or Super Why. The children that watch Spongebob seem to be more aggressive and use words like "Stupid" or "Dumb" whereas the other children seem to have better behavior and use nice words. My son watched Caillou (he's 8 now) and I agree with the above post that said Caillou whines. Unfortunately, my son picked up that whining. Not the best show for that, but it's better than Spongebob (which he still doesn't watch at age 8)!

ajnt23 by ajnt23 | CARROLLTON, OH
Sep 21, 2011

I have never let my children watch this cartoon and I am so thankful now after reading this. I have always felt that this cartoon was inappropriate for my children to watch. I tell my children that they can only watch shows on TV that are going to teach them something beneficial. If they are not going to learn anything good from the show, then they are not allowed to watch it.

buttercup3 by buttercup3 | Portage, IN
Sep 20, 2011

I have 3 kids...3,5,&7. I don't let them watch Spongebob either because it is awful. There are a lot better shows out there. I have to say though that I can't stand Caillou either! Caillou whines all the time on that show. I used to let the kids watch it and I noticed they whined a lot more afterwards.

kjj913 by kjj913 | N KINGSTOWN, RI
Sep 20, 2011

I had two boys, ages 2 and 3. I don't let them watch Spongebob, there are plenty of other shows on tv that they enjoy. It's not appropriate for toddlers and preschoolers and is rated Y7 for that reason. My brother, who lives with my parents, let's his son watch it. Whenever my boys are over, it's always a fight to turn that show off. They have let them watch it while they were babysitting, and it takes weeks to fix all the bad habits and fresh remarks that my boys pick up from that show!

lucaandnico by lucaandnico | SALINAS, CA
Sep 20, 2011

My mother let my son watch this, as soon as I found out I said, no way. Please don't let him watch this anymore, there are much better shows available for his age (3), such as Calliu, Sesame Street, Mickey Mouse, etc, I think this show is not appropriate at all, and hope my son never watches it.

emilykwhite by emilykwhite | Hewitt, TX
Sep 20, 2011

Spongebob is more of an older kid program. There are alot of older topics that are addressed on the show. Though, I believe a smaller child would like it more for the bright colors and funny voices. If you don't make a big deal out of alot of things, kids wont question it. They react from our reactions.

ntotsch by ntotsch | Carlinville, IL
Sep 20, 2011

Spongebob has been banned at our house. We started letting our daughter watch it when she was 3, and then she started throwing huge tantrums every time she didn't get her way.... Spongebob does it so why not? ... Spongebob was not a good influence and we banned him for good!

heatherv112506 by heatherv112506 | Vero Beach, FL
Sep 20, 2011

When I was a teen ( I am 25 now) I loved spongebob. Now looking back at it, I really at times don't find it appropriate for my daughters. There are MANY adult undertones to it. My oldest is 6 and she made the decision on her own to stop watching it. Now as preschoolers, my 2 younger daughters love Umizoomi and Bubble Guppies. Max and Ruby is another favorite and I enjoy watching these shows with them.

jemappel by jemappel | Rye Brook, NY
Sep 20, 2011

NickJr has great shows for pre-schoolers...regular Nick does not (SpongeBob being one of those). Although I'm not thrilled with SpongeBob at all, regardless of age (even for me!)...just seems too trashy somehow...

pennysfromheaven by pennysfromheaven | WILLIAMSTON, SC
Sep 20, 2011

I do not let anyone in my house watch Spongebob or any other cartoon that is so rude and crude in my house especially children. Kids see too much of that in real life now I will not let in into my house. If I did that would be condoning the behavior.

emricson by emricson | Lake In The Hills, IL
Sep 20, 2011

I am not a fan of Spongebob at all and never have been. My son started watching when he was 3. Soon after he started punching my husband saying "this is what spongebob does" Ahhhh what a horrible cartoon for kids!