Children’s cartoons with fast moving scenes and unfamiliar or made-up objects can harm toddlers’ ability to concentrate, claims US psychologist Dr Angeline Lillard.
Dr Angeline also suggested that such cartoons “over-tax” children’s brains, which could harm their logic skills and short-tem memory.
In her investigation, 60 4-year-olds were divided into three groups. One group was shown a nine-minute clip of SpongeBob SquarePants, one watched an educational cartoon and the last group was given colouring materials and allowed to draw.
Those who watched SpongeBob scored half as well on a variety of tests than the group of children who watched the educational cartoon. But neither group did as well as those who had been given drawing materials.
Dr Angeline did stress that SpongeBob shouldn’t be singled out, as the effect was down to the pace of the show, rather than the content. Nickelodeon spokesman David Bittler added that SpongeBob SquarePants is aimed at children aged 6-11, not the 4-year-olds who were involved in the study.
Dr Angeline recommended parents should not allow their children to watch cartoons before going to school or nursery when they are preparing to learn, and to pay attention to the recommended age the shows are made for.