Most of you know how I feel about media and kids: it has little, if any, value in their lives. Kids watch too much TV, play too many video games and fill their tender minds with violent, sexual and harmful music simply because someone wants to make a buck off of them.
I have to speak up about the study recently released on SpongeBob SquarePants’ effect on our kids.
This study looked at how well children focus on a task after watching clips of SpongeBob and compared their performance with that of kids who watched a calmer show presented by PBS. The researcher found that the children who completed the task after watching clips of SpongeBob had a more difficult time concentrating than the children who watched the slower moving PBS show. The conclusion? Watching SpongeBob aggravates ADHD.
I have long argued that television and video games have harmed our children’s ability to focus. Every other boy I see with ADHD seemingly visits my office while staring into the screen of a hand held video game. He plays the entire time his mother and I chat about his inability to focus (and his poor grades.) I have felt for years that playing video games and watching television shows with fast paced auditory stimuli and visual imagery dramatically harms a child’s ability to focus on black words on a white piece of paper.
But why pick on SpongeBob? Why can’t researchers go after worse culprits like some of the shows on MTV or video games? They would cite the demographics of their viewing audience as a reason. Children who watch SpongeBob are younger than those who play violent video games and five year old children seem more vulnerable than thirteen year olds. I disagree.
We will see the American Academy of Pediatrics speak out against television and video games more in the future. They should. The stimulation that kids receive from all forms of media will intensify, and sadly, the numbers of kids who frequent pediatric offices like mine and complain they can’t focus will skyrocket. Make no mistake, I read parents the riot act about media. Most agree, but then ask if there isn’t anything else I can do (like give them a prescription for Concerta.)
When will we fight for our kids with more than just an arsenal of medicines and have the guts to really help them? We need to unplug. Then, at least if they do need medication, media won’t undo all of its positive effects.
Do you agree, parents?