My apologies if this comes out as a little bit of a rant. Recently, I was talking to another mother of young children. While we were talking, she was telling me about how she read a study that reported how children who watched Sponge Bob were severely mentally affected by it. After reading about the study myself, I learned that specifically very young children, after watching the cartoon, have pointedly shorter attention spans and levels of patience. Additionally, the children who take a test after watching the show for fifteen minutes score significantly lower.
I am not intending to bully Sponge Bob here. I have never liked the cartoon. It is because of my own preferences though. I have never had the slightest interest in gross humor, and the cartoon embraces the disgusting. In the article that I read about the study, it explains that the test subjects were four-year-old children, so I smile and thank goodness that kept the kids away from Bob when they were really little. They loved PBS. We watched the channel almost exclusively until they outgrew it, which breaks my heart. I wish that they were airing programing for older children.
I was thinking about Sponge Bob though, after looking at the study. The character has a voice that is incredibly abrasive, for that matter all of the characters do. Sponge Bob himself, and especially his unfortunate starfish friend, are unintelligent and highly ignorant. Even the colors of the animation are just a little too neon. They seem to be put together purposely so that they will clash. It is not really visually appealing to look at. When I consider all of these elements no wonder that watching the cartoon coaxes children into shutting off their minds a little. They may be trying to protect their tiny brains.
The larger question behind all of this is why are we putting up with it. Our children are honestly getting the shaft. They have terrible options to choose from on the television. Education in extra-curricular activities (sports, dance, defense, art, and music) is so unaffordable to the average family in our country that it is honestly shameful. The safe spaces in our communities are growing smaller and smaller as we attempt to shelter our kids from all of the predators out there. They now control the streets that we used to play on fearlessly as children. It’s disgusting, and unacceptable.
I work hard to find good resources for learning and cultivating creativity in my children. We recently, finally, became members of 4-H. We are in a Lego robotics club and it is amazing. Not only does the club teach about physics and robotics, but it also teaches cooperation, leadership, patience, service, loyalty…the list goes on. I love it! It inspires me to want to start sharing my skill set with kids. I’m really not any good at physics, but I’m a good teacher and I can cook up a storm. So maybe I should be teaching kids, aside from my own, to cook…for free…because it’s important.
I have been considering this for a while. There are specifics to be figured out, of course. Cooking involves knives and heat and I need to make sure that I don’t get sued while trying to do a good thing for others. It is a really amazing idea to consider though. I know lots of people who have lots of awesome skills. I know people who could teach kids how to play sports, an instrument…or even how to fix things around the house, or build. Maybe, for instance, if you give the neighbor kids singing lessons, their parents can teach your kids the art of karate.
Because we all know that truly, Sponge Bob might not be all that damaging, but it is certainly not ideal. Our kids are being forced indoors more and more. We all need to be out there seeking alternatives to them sitting in front of the television. We can all be diligent and insist that electronics are turned off for the majority of the day, but we still need to be seeking out the best alternatives that we can find. We also need to constantly remind our kids that being interested in learning makes them cool. I am sick and tired of stupidity being popular; it’s ridiculous…exactly like Sponge Bob.
Here’s a story about the study if you are interested: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/09/12/spongebob-is-bad-for-smal_n_958410.html