SpongeBob In Hot Water From Study Of 4-Year-Olds

Posted Monday, September 12, 2011 --- 6:50 a.m.

CHICAGO (AP) -- Another study is suggesting links between attention problems in young children and their TV watching habits.

The latest study finds that watching just nine minutes of the cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants 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 and those who had watched "SpongeBob" did measurably worse than the others.

The new study suggests more immediate problems can occur after very little exposure, especially to fast-paced programming like SpongeBob.

One expert says the results should be interpreted cautiously because of the study's small size, but the data seem robust.

The study is in the journal Pediatrics.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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