Headline Grabbing Study of the Week: For Kids to Learn, SpongeBob Must Die!


A new earth-shattering and metaphysically incontrovertible study is out, this one saying that watching SpongeBob SquarePants can cause learning problems in little kids. How bad is it? According to a USA Today writeup, "just nine minutes of that program can cause short-term attention and learning problems in 4-year-olds."

The problems were seen in a study of 60 children randomly assigned to either watch SpongeBob, or the slower-paced PBS cartoon Caillou or assigned to draw pictures. Immediately after these nine-minute assignments, the kids took mental function tests; those who had watchedSpongeBob did measurably worse than the others….

Previous research has linked TV-watching with long-term attention problems in children, but the new study suggests more immediate problems can occur after very little exposure — results that parents of young kids should be alert to, the study authors said.

Kids' cartoon shows typically feature about 22 minutes of action, so watching a full program "could be more detrimental," the researchers speculated, But they said more evidence is needed to confirm that.

The study is online at the site for the journal Pediatrics. Here's the defense from Nickelodeon, the channel that pushes SpongeBob like low-rent heroin on the nation's small-screen playgrounds:

"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."

That's a pretty good point, but the real takeaway from the story has nothing to do with this particular study and more to do with the way media cover this stuff:

The results should be interpreted cautiously because of the study's small size…

More here.

Wake up, America!: The more we focus on whether SpongeBob will make teh kidz dumb, the less we will focus on him making them gayz.

For more Reason, kids, and the boob tube, go here.

Read especially the interview with University of Tulsa professor Joli Jensen, who draws a distinction between what she calls "instrumental" and "expressive" understandings of how culture works. And this piece citing University of Toronto psychologist Jonathan Freedman on the limitations of lab observations when it comes to kids and TV.

For a sweet taste of SpongeBob, click below:

NEXT: Men Better at Both Hunting and Gathering, Says Study

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  1. spongebob must die but plankton must [RULE THE WORLD] ! bwhahahahahahahaha

  2. Dude, the problem with your kid watching Caillou is that then you have to explain what leukemia is to your kids.

    1. I hate that little bald freak.

    2. Fuck fucking Caillou in his fucking Canuck fucking ear!

      1. My kids love Caillou, that whiny little brat. My almost-3-year-old sings along and acts out the stories. The 4.5 year-old isn’t quite so engrossed, but he sings along.

        Oh, well. They do act up more when they watch SpongeBob, and they’re little minah birds, so the frequent “morons” and “stupids” and “idiots” were not working for us. We used to watch a lot of SpongeBob, but I weaned them off it months ago in favor of Jack’s Big Music Show.

        Dora and Diego are strictly prohibited in my house. They make my ears bleed.

        1. After watching Caillou my kids were imitating his whiny brattiness. I banned it from the house and never looked back. Jack’s Big Music Show is an entertaining show, but for the older pre-K kids, I found that the Backyardigans held their attention better. Either way, back to Canada oh whiny Caillou!

        2. Honestly, I’m mainly expressing my wife’s frustration with Caillou, as she’s the one who stays home and deals with it on a daily basis (and yes, my 2.5-year-old sings along to it too). Personally, I’m a big fan of Martha Speaks, the only kids show I’ve seen teach freedom of expression AND the law of unintended consequences in the same episode.

    3. I’m just a kid who’s four, each day I die some more, I’m just a cancer kid named Caillou!

    4. Caillou is the devil. Even when she was tiny my kid hated him. She thought he was incredibly whiny and bratty.

  3. This study is perhaps the most useless, pointless waste of time and money in the long and disreputable history of psychological studies. If there were any justice in the world, the authors of this study would be fired from their ivory tower sinecures, and forced to become fry cooks…..

    1. I would not want any of those people near my fry’s

  4. I will say this, if you watch modern kids shows and then turn on “Boomerang” which is all classic cartoons from the 50s 60s and 70s, it is amazing how quiet the old ones were. The new ones are just an assault on your sense. They give me a headache after about two minutes. It can’t be good for your brain.

    1. But John, you forget how much more likely 60s cartoons were to turn kids into hippies.

      Scooby snacks? Gleep and Gloop? etc.

    2. Yeah, but Hanna-Barbera cartoons were stingy with actually animating motion and gestures.

      1. They were absolutely barbaric. Compared to the classic Disney and Warner Brothers cartoons, which really were art, they look like South Park. But give it to Hanna-Barbera, they may annoy the hell out of you as an adults, but even today a five year old will love Scooby Doo.

        1. I can not control my laughter when watching wyle E coyote and roadrunner. I am not joking, I can’t explain it but that is the funniest shit to me.

          1. I am that way about Foghorn Leghorn.

            1. I, say, Ahh say, I say look at me when I’m talkin’ to ya boy!


              1. Me three. We’re trying to get our boys into Looney Tunes, but if it doesn’t look like Pixar made it, they’re skeptical. But hey, brainwashing takes time; like the green beans, we’ll keep introducing them until they stick.


            One of my favorite’s – It’s Hummer Time

        2. The Laff-a-Lympics were the best thing EVAR. Snagglepuss FTW.

          1. no way, Wacky Races is way moar gooder.

        3. Actually, there’s this new Scooby Doo, and it’s weird.

          Basically, the whole gang forms Mystery Inc. as high school kids and solves fake monsters in a town. All right, shit we’ve seen before. The weird twists are two fold: The town is a tourist trap for people who like to see haunted shit, so everyone hates them AND the big, Lost-esque mystery that undergrids the show is that 15 or so years ago, ANOTHER group of kids who had a dog and called themselves Mystery Inc. mysteriously disappeared.

          Sadly, the won’t go full horror movie and have it be because the whole town got together and murdered the shit out of them.

          Oh, also weird twist: Shaggy and Velma are dating.

          I saw like 3 episodes. It was weird.

          1. Velma loves the bone.

            True story.

            1. Jeepers, my parents are conservative Christians so I’m deeper in the closet than any creepy old guy in a mask.

        4. Season 1 and 2 of the Flintstones were great for their voice acting especualy Mel Blanc and Allen Reed. Hanna Barbara cartoons of the early 60’s made up for thier animation with great voice acting. Still, MGM cartoons were better when Tex Avery was director.

    3. As thin as the plots were and as one-dimensional the characters, I loved me some early to mid-ninties disney and warner bros. cartoons!

      Darkwing Duck, Ducktales, Tail Spin, Freakazoid, Animaniacs….

      “what are we going to do tonight brain”
      “same thing we do every night pinky, try and take over the world”


      1. Freakazoid was fucking amazing. Oh, also, let us not forget the awesome superhero cartoons of the early 90s: Spiderman and X-Men, both of which are on Netflix (and X-Men, luckily, kicked Jubilee to the curb pretty early when they realized that that character simply has no redeeming value).

        1. You left out the key trigger for most of the awesome superhero cartoons. Batman the Animated Series… as well as pretty much everything that Timm and Dini touched.

        2. Freakazoid was so amazing it briefly managed to make LBJ and MPAA hack Jack Valenti not annoying:

        3. All of those are good, but you failed to mention the Tick animated series as well

          1. Spoooooooon!

    4. old cartoons were quiet?

      I seem to recall all sorts of kbwangs, crashes, that sound that running makes, background music. And don’t get me started on the glaring color schemes. How long did you watch boomerang for your “test”?

      1. (fyi, i’m thinking capt. caveman, el kabong, and other HB stuff. WB did actually have some pretty quiet stuff, but they actually understood how to use the music score to good effect.)

  5. Here is the important part of this study that renders it completely irrelevant:

    Immediately after these nine-minute assignments, the kids took mental function tests…

    Who takes tests immediately after watching SpongeBob or any other TV show? What is the impact 30 minutes later? An hour later? Two hours later? What, if any, are the long-term effects? That’s what might be relevant.

    Put kids in front of anything they actually like and that holds their attention, and of course they’re not going to concentrate on some boring test immediately afterward. They’re going to still be thinking about that thing they like. You might as well say this study demonstrated PBS programming is boring and uninvolving.

    1. That is probably a better explanation for the scores than Sponge Bob, which is really one of the tamer kids shows, rotting their brains.

    2. “Here is the important part of this study that renders it completely irrelevant”

      I heard this on the news that the local radio station has at the top of the hour. The report ended with the statement that “more study will be needed”. Well isn’t that precious.

    3. This.

      If an adult took an IQ test immediately after being on one of those spin-around-and-make-me-sick amusement park rides for 15 minutes, the results would probably be just as bad. That doesn’t mean amusement park rides lower IQ.

    4. That’s what I thought. As the kid is takimg some boring mental test, he’s probably thinking “why did I only get to watch 9 minutes of Spongebob. How is Spongbob going to get out of his latest quandry”. The fucking tester never even notice that the 6 year old is using quandry in his mental thoughts.

  6. Immediately after these nine-minute assignments, the kids took mental function tests; those who had watchedSpongeBob did measurably worse than the others….


    Maybe they should repeat that “experiment” and have a group of kids chase each other around the playground for nine (neither eight, nor ten, but NINE) minutes and test their ability to sit quietly and focus.

    More creative ways to squander tax grants.

  7. Hanna and Barbera: history’s greatest monsters.

  8. I watched an episode of Banana Splits a few years ago for the first time since childhood. I now understand completely why I am so fucked up.

    In the meantime, H.R. Pufnstuf just gets better with age.

    I also had a crush on the chick from The Bugaloos.

    That is all.

    1. I had a huge crush on Jimmy from H.R. Pufnstuf. Witchie-poo forever! Sigmund and the Sea Monsters and Land of the Lost were also gold.

      I didn’t like the Bugaloos, though.

      1. Haha! I liked that one too. And Secrets of Isis. I think they may have been tied together. In superhero sisterhood.

        1. I remember when I discovered Isis star JoAnna Cameron had a brief nude scene in Roger Vadim’s glossy, major-studio exploitation flick Pretty Maids All in a Row. It’s like it was yesterday….

          Bonus: Angie Dickinson:

          1. If you’ve never see Mr Show’s homage to Sid & Marty Kroft:

  9. Charles Nelson Reilly on Lidsville fucked me up.

  10. They affect the short-term. Did they have these kids take another test a few hours later and see how they did? Doubtful. Who cares about the short-term? It’s not like these kids are taking tests in school immediately after watching Spongebob. But now you’ll have some bat shit crazy parents who read this and will go “SMASH ALL THE TVS!”

    1. Already happening in my FB stream. It’s the granola crowd griping, and damn if they don’t even own tvs, or if they do they don’t let their precious snowflakes actually *watch* it.

  11. “Laaance! Laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaance!”

  12. The problems were seen in a study of 60 children randomly assigned to either watch SpongeBob, or the slower-paced PBS cartoon Caillou or assigned to draw pictures.

    As a child, I was assigned to read things like Melville. That’s what the kids need from their parents. This pop culture crap is what is destroying our erudition.

    I think it was Melville. Maybe I had been assigned to watch Wrath of Khan. My faulty memory is often the bane of my existence, no matter how from hell’s heart I stab at it.


    2. Oddly enough, there is a reference to Moby Dick in one episode of Sponge-Bob. Mr. Krabs goes nuts trying to retrieve his millionth dollar from a giant clam, and nails a sandwich to the mast of the fishing boat; the prize for the first one (SpongeBob or Squidward) who spots the giant clam.

  13. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’d pay twenty grand
    to ass fuck Dora the Explorer. Twenty grand.

  14. Anyone remember the 7 cities of gold cartoon? Can I blame that for my bloated south american travel expenses?

    (I didn’t see no damn city of gold, but Cusco was awesome)

    1. yes yes, a thousand times yes! still got the theme song stuck in my head 20 years later…

      1. glad to see it wasnt a childhood hallucination of mine.

  15. One question, did the nine minutes of Spongebob feature that hick talking Sandy the squirrel? That could skew the results right there.

  16. Public schools dumb down the childrunz moreso than SpongeBob Squarepants and on a far greater scale.

  17. I know Spongebob is bad for your mind – I had difficulty concentrating on the article with that animated .gif.

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