Opinion: Leave SpongeBob alone



Mike Crissman

Mike Crissman

Mike Crissman is a junior newspaper journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

We all know who lives in a pineapple under the sea, but is SpongeBob SquarePants actually bad for kids? Such was the conclusion of a recent study that the American Academy of Pediatrics conducted.

In the study researchers had 60 kids watch either the Nickelodeon show “SpongeBob” or the slow-paced PBS show “Caillou” for nine minutes. Some children were also assigned to draw pictures. Afterward the kids–as young as 4–had to perform mental-function tests. The children who watched “SpongeBob” did measurably worse on average than those who watched “Caillou” or drew pictures.

Researchers concluded that “SpongeBob” and other similar shows are detrimental to young minds, causing short-term attention and learning problems.

First off, not every cartoon has to be overly educational. All work and no play makes Mr. SquarePants a very dull character. That’s why the show gives us healthy doses of shenanigans involving SpongeBob annoying his neighbor Squidward and getting into trouble with his friend Patrick. Though, much of the show’s humor does come at SpongeBob’s workplace, the Krusty Krab.

For the record I have seen “Caillou.” It’s terrible. It’s like “Arthur,” but everyone in the show isn’t an animal. It’s absolutely ridiculous. It’s like “Little Bill” without black people–super lame and super bad. I’d rather do flashcards. (Then again, I’m not the demographic audience.) Compared to a mental-function test, “Caillou” is boring.

There’s nothing wrong with mindless entertainment. People are allowed to escape reality once in a while and enter an underwater world where snails meow and squids are sarcastic. From time to time, I like to picture my

Jesus in a tuxedo t-shirt, because it says, “I want to be formal, but I’m here to party too.” Is that such a crime?

Most kids’ shows should and do teach life lessons. But think of old cartoons we watched like “Tom and Jerry” and “Looney Tunes.” There’s no real redeeming educational quality to be had there. It’s just a lot humor rooted in violence, all aimed at children. All of a sudden a show about a sponge that owns a house and holds a steady job doesn’t seem so bad.

There are plenty of things kids can learn by watching “SpongeBob.” While he does have annoying qualities, namely his high-pitched laugh, SpongeBob does possess some positive traits. He is optimistic, kind, brave and determined. He worked so hard to cook Bubble Bass the perfect Crabby Patty and was devastated when he got the order wrong. Little did he know, Bubble Bass was hiding the missing pickles under his tongue the entire time.

It’s hard to focus on a task like test-taking after you have finished watching something so awesome. “SpongeBob SquarePants” is just that. It’s great entertainment. It may not have a place in the classroom, but it does hold a place in our hearts.