Getting to the Bikini Bottom of Children’s Programming

Well, I guess my two boys may have been damaged due to watching every episode of “SpongeBob Squarepants” at least according to researchers from the University of Virginia.

Using a massive study of, ahem, 60 four-year-olds, the researchers discovered that the group watching 9 minutes of SpongeBob developed learning problems when compared to another group that watched a PBS children’s show, and still another who simply drew pictures with crayons.

For decades, some people have viewed cartoons as damaging young people, be it the violence or the frenetic pacing, or the manipulative commercials.

All I know is this.  My childhood was richer because of Bugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry, and Screwy Squirrel cartoons.  And I hope that my boys will likewise have similar fond memories of SpongeBob, Patrick, Squidward, and Mr. Krabs.  It is a show reminiscent of the best cartoons from animator geniuses such as Tex Avery, Bob Clampett, and Chuck Jones, cartoons that are funny at both an adult level and a child’s level.  

It’s those other so-called children’s shows that are damaging in terms of lack of imagination and lack of respect for its intended audience.  Now that’s something the researchers at the University of Virginia should study.

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