Is SpongeBob Squarepants Bad for Kids?


Recent headlines about SpongeBob Squarepants said the popular kids cartoon impaired learning in children.

Articles reported that “psychologists have now found that a brief exposure to SpongeBob, Patrick, Squidward and the rest of the crew … appears to dampen preschoolers’ brain power.”

Not surprisingly, network representatives disagreed saying the study “could not possibly provide the basis for any valid findings that parents could trust” regarding the possible dangers of paced, “fantastical” TV for the mental well being of our children.

Of course, we could wait and delay judgment until “all the facts are in.” But today’s children will have long morphed into tomorrow’s adults before any such information might be available. That course would leave us in a state of limbo that could have potentially negative outcomes for millions of children.

Fortunately, the environmental health field offers us some excellent strategies to use in this kind of situation. Specifically, that field has been guided by what is termed the “precautionary principle” which states that if there is suspected risk of causing harm, one takes precautionary measures to protect the public.

That means limiting or, when possible, eliminating the exposure to the potential danger.

Parents have the power—if they so choose—to put that principle into effect for their children. While it takes discipline and determination to limit children’s exposure to the media, that is the prudent course to follow in the current circumstances.