Wednesday, September 14, 2011

TV will destroy your brain

The television, that insidious beast, that Medusa which freezes a billion people to stone every night, staring fixedly, that Siren which called and sang and promised so much and gave, after all, so little.
-Ray Bradbury

Uh oh.  SpongeBob rots your brain.  Every news program I've seen in the past 24 hours has to mention the "SpongeBob study" that shows that 9 minutes of fast-paced television for kids under the age of four leads to problems with self-control and learning.  Of course, Spongebob creators say that the big porous dimwit is not meant for children under the age of six.  I suppose that if any of the other fast-paced shows had been singled out, they'd say the same thing.

Most everyone knows that we need to limit the amount of screen time our children get, and particularly those children under the age of four.  Children under the age of two shouldn't even watch TV.  My oldest child was probably around 7 before she became familiar with SpongeBob.  If my eldest was 7, my middle child was 5, and my youngest has never known a world that didn't include SpongeBob.  She's four.  Guess it's too late for that study to help me change my parenting ways; the damage has already been done.

After hearing about this study, did anyone else recall the Max Headroom episode where people were exploding because of watching fast-paced TV?  Granted, that was 1987--and it wasn't a show that EVERYONE watched.  I was only 14, but that episode apparently made a lasting impression on me.  My guess is that one of the authors of this study also saw that episode.   In the episode, fast-paced commercials caused death.  Twenty-four years later, we find out that fast-paced television causes problems in young children.  Granted, it's just one study of just 60 kids who were just four years old.   

So, I suppose we should all err on the side of caution and pay attention to what our kids are watching.  Just in case there's more to that Max Headroom "Blipverts" episode than we would have imagined. 

So, how do I undo the damage already done on my child?  No TV for the next year.  Lots of flashcards.  We're going to work on her self control.  Okay, I'm not really going to do any of that.  I'll do my best to prevent her from feasting on a steady diet of SpongeBob.  We'll read books.  We'll talk.  We'll continue to do pretty much all of the stuff we're already doing.  Does she have great self control?  NO.  She's four and she's the baby of the family, used to getting her own way.  Does it have anything to do with the fast-paced shows that are on television when her sisters get home from school?  Maybe.  Probably.  Am I going to becoming a strict TV-patrolling parent?  Sorry, but no.   She's often in the same room as her sisters while they're watching TV, but much of the time she's doing other things.  She can be found coloring, looking at books, or playing with one toy or another while they're watching something she doesn't really care about. 

Unfortunately, SpongeBob is hilarious.  He's fast-paced and funny and she already knows and loves him.   I suppose I should bring a couple of SpongeBob books home from the library.  The same lovable character, but put at a slower pace.  Of course, now that I have two kids who will read to the third, I wouldn't even have to read them to her!  Win, win!  She's not rotting her brain, and the other girls improve their reading skills!


  1. booooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

  2. I'm not sure what you're booing. The flak SpongeBob is getting, SpongeBob himself, or my spin on the whole thing. I do appreciate you taking the time to comment, even if I don't understand the comment you made!