Watching SpongeBob Squarepants Makes Preschoolers Slower Thinkers, Study Finds

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Too Plugged In?

While multitasking has its benefits, this study and others are offering evidence that these short attention spans are hindering children more than they help them.

"There's no question that there's a downside to having deficits in executive function, these are skills everyone should have," says Christakis.

"The interesting thing was that the deficits were seen with one type of programming and not the other. It's not that all television rots the brain and makes kids stupid," he says.

In a world where limiting kids' access to media is a constant battle, "the good news is that it seems only certain kinds of programming is detrimental. For those parents focusing on the quantity of TV watching only, they need to know that it's not always about turning off the TV, it's about changing the channel."

Putting reasonable limitations on hours spent watching TV is of course also important, notes Rosenberg. Parents need to "closely supervise" their child's TV habits and "look for other opportunities to 'exercise kids synapses'," with engaging activities like reading, playing outside and engaging with others.

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