The good folks over at the Shots blog will have more to report about this, but we just couldn't wait to pass on word that:
"The cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants is in hot water from a study suggesting that watching just nine minutes of that program can cause short-term attention and learning problems in 4-year-olds." (The Associated Press)
It seems, according to research published online today by the journal Pediatrics, that in a very small study of 4-year-olds, researchers found that kids who had just watched 9 minutes of SpongeBob's show didn't do as well on some tests as kids who had spent that time watching a slower-paced show or drawing.
Nickelodeon, which broadcasts SpongeBob, points out that the show is aimed at children ages 6 to 11, not pre-schoolers. And spokesman David Bittler questioned the study's methodology — especially the fact that just 60 children were studied.
We'll let Shots sort this out, and turn our admittedly short attention span back to other things.
Update at 1:15 p.m. ET: The Shots post is now up. As Nancy Shute writes, "the new study comes with a boatload of caveats."