Wednesday, October 19, 2011

In The News-Cartoon Controversy Revisited: Is SpongeBob Bad for Kids?

According to a recent study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the popular animated Nickelodeon TV series SpongeBob SquarePants is detrimental to children, specifically, to children’s ability to focus, solve problems, and remember details. The study, which was released in the September 12, 2011, issue of the Journal of Pediatrics, involved sixty participants, all of whom were four-year-old children. One major fault with the study according to a Nickelodeon spokesperson is that participants were significantly younger than the show's target demographic, as SpongeBob is designed for children between the ages of six and eleven.

Findings of the study suggest that fast-paced programs like SpongeBob leave children who view them at a disadvantage, particularly when compared to those who spend time viewing more slow-moving educational programming or exercising their creativity with paper, crayons, markers, and other art supplies.

This isn't the first time that SpongeBob SquarePants has come under criticism. The program has been targeted by many special interest groups over the course of its twelve-year run, as have other animated programs such as The Ren and Stimpy Show, Rocko’s Modern Life, and The Powerpuff Girls

SpongeBob SquarePants was created by Illinois native Stephen Hillenburg, a former oceanographer. Originating one state to the east, Indiana cartoonist, illustrator, and animator Mark O'Hare has worked on the SpongeBob show as well as SpongeBob books for children. Mr. O'Hare graduated from Purdue University and drew the comic strip Citizen Dog, distributed by Universal Press Syndicate from May 15, 1995,  to May 26, 2001. His other animation credits include the less controversial Dexter’s Laboratory and Hey Arnold! 

To read more about the recent study, take a look at:

“Pediatricians' group finds fault with ‘SpongeBob’,” Reuters, by Daniel Frankel, September 12, 2011,

And “Is SpongeBob SquarePants Bad for Children?” The New York Times, by Roni Caryn Rabin, September 12, 2011,  

Or review the findings and details of the original study, “The Effects of Fast-Paced Cartoons,” by Dimitri A. Christakis, Pediatrics: Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, September 2011.

By Bridget Hanley, Proficient Pen
Copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

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