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Sorry, What Did You Say? SpongeBob Is Bad For Kids' Brains?

SpongeBob Squarepants.
SpongeBob Squarepants.

The good folks over at the Shots blog will have more to report about this, but we just couldn't wait to pass on word that:

"The cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants is in hot water from a study suggesting that watching just nine minutes of that program can cause short-term attention and learning problems in 4-year-olds." ( The Associated Press)

It seems, according to research published online today by the journal Pediatrics, that in a very small study of 4-year-olds, researchers found that kids who had just watched 9 minutes of SpongeBob's show didn't do as well on some tests as kids who had spent that time watching a slower-paced show or drawing.

Nickelodeon, which broadcasts SpongeBob, points out that the show is aimed at children ages 6 to 11, not pre-schoolers. And spokesman David Bittler questioned the study's methodology — especially the fact that just 60 children were studied.

We'll let Shots sort this out, and turn our admittedly short attention span back to other things.

Update at 1:15 p.m. ET:The Shots post is now up. As Nancy Shute writes, "the new study comes with a boatload of caveats."

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