Could Spongebob be keeping your child awake?

The Pediatric Insider

© 2012 Roy Benaroch, MD


Don’t get me wrong: I like Spongebob. And Patrick. And even Mr Krabs. But a new study suggests that our favorite yellow porous invertebrate might be keeping your preschooler awake.


Researchers looked at about 600 families of children aged 3-5, and over a 12 month period had about half of the families participate in a program to encourage appropriate media use. The families were taught to avoid age-inappropriate television (no more Spongebob, which is rated TV-7). They were also given information about what shows were better to watch, and were told to watch TV together with their kids and to talk about the shows afterwards. Examples of shows suggested for these kids included Sesame Street (yay!) and Dora (which would give me nightmares). The other half of the families weren’t given any instructions to change their media habits. The families in the study were not encouraged to watch less TV, just to watch more-appropriate TV in a family setting.


The children in the no-Spongebob group not only slept better throughout the study period, but were reported to be easier to wake and less groggy in the morning.


That’s not the only bad news for Spongebob: previous research has shown that his likeness on packaging is being used to market unhealthy foods—which really isn’t his fault (I understand his agent very aggressively pursues licensing deals.) There was even one study—not a very good study, but who am I to say?—that supposedly showed that kids who watch he-who-lives-in-a-pineapple-under-the-sea become slower thinkers.


I’m not so sure that Spongebob is really the cause of all of our children’s ills, but this recent study is worth thinking about, especially if you’ve got a 3 to 5 year old (usually with an older sibling!) who’s having trouble sleeping. The fast-paced, crazy imagery of some cartoons really isn’t for younger children.


I’d stay away from Dora, too.

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One Comment on “Could Spongebob be keeping your child awake?”

  1. Alexis Says:

    Poor Spongebob – how did he get singled out for all these studies? He must have really pissed off somebody over at the AAP. Actually I’m pretty anti-Spongebob myself. Don’t let my kids watch it but regardless every item at the grocery with his face on it elicits, “Can we get that Mom? PLEEZE it’s Spongebob mac and cheese!!!!”

    Stupid Spongebob 😛


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