Parents, every time your preschooler watches cartoons, they could be damaging their brain. Researchers at the University of Virginia say it’s true, after analyzing a group of 4-year-olds.

 

One group watched the hyperactive cartoon “SpongeBob Square Pants,” while another watched a slower-paced PBS cartoon, and the control group didn’t watch any TV – they drew with markers instead. After 9 minutes, the preschoolers performed tasks that tested their cognitive ability, and impulse control - like counting backwards, and delaying gratification by waiting to eat a tasty snack until they were told it was OK. The result? The “SpongeBob” kids performed significantly worse than the kids who drew pictures or watched the PBS cartoon. They tested rock bottom in short-term memory, and impulse control.

 

So, what’s so bad about “SpongeBob?” Lead researcher Dr. Angeline Lillard says it’s not the cartoon’s stories that are a problem. It’s because it’s exhausting trying to process any type of hyper-fast show that has rapid-fire dialogue, and quickly changing colors and scenes. To give you an idea of how fast “SpongeBob” is, the show changes scenes three times more than an average PBS cartoon. But that doesn’t mean you need to go on a cartoon ban, parents. Instead, experts suggest only allowing your kid to watch slower-paced cartoons. Like “Curious George.”

 

And of course the best way to help your kid’s brain develop 100-percent is to turn off the TV and go old school. That means plenty of tried-and-true brain boosting and skill improving activities, like reading, drawing, and solving puzzles.

Lesson Expert

Meredith McKenna