Is SpongeBob SquarePants Destroying Our Children's Memories?

13/09/2011 12:22 | Updated 22 May 2015
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Fans of the wacky yellow sea sponge Bob and his trusty marine sidekick Patrick Star should look away now...

Psychologists have warned that children who regularly tune into SpongeBob SquarePants' escapades have lower concentration spans and bad problem solving skills.

Experts found that the fast-paced scenes in the popular cartoon series "over-taxes" children's brains and reduces their ability to tackle logic-based problems, as well as affecting their short-term memories.

The study at the University of Washington randomly assigned 60 four-year-olds to three different groups. One group watched a nine-minute clip of the popular US cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants, in which scene changes occurred on average every 11 seconds.

Another group watched an educational cartoon of the same length with scene changes every 34 seconds on average, while the final group were given crayons, marker pens and paper, and allowed to draw.

The children were then challenged with logic-based tasks, such as building bricks, repetition tests and multi-tasking. Those who viewed the quick changing scenes fared worse in the memory, repetition and gratification delay tests.

This is thought to be because of the constant object, character and dialogue changes in a short amount of time, leading their young brains to become overloaded with unfamiliar information.

"Connecting fast-paced television viewing to deficits in executive function, regardless of whether they are transient, has profound implications for children's cognitive and social development,' said Dr Dimitri Christakis, of the Seattle Children's Research Institute.

Do your think your child may suffer from SpongeBob-induced, short term memory loss?

Or are you and your family fans of the animated sponge?

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