SpongeBob and his crazy antics may be actually hurting your child’s ability to learn. So states a study out today from Seattle Children’s Hospital published in the journal “Pediatrics.” The study found that kids who watched SpongeBob for just nine minutes, compared to either drawing or watching the slower-paced “Caillou,” scored significantly lower on mental functioning tests than the other kids. It must be noted that this study was tiny, just 60 kids, but the lead researcher feels that the data is important for parents to know.
TV should be allowed in small doses for many reasons; television viewing has been seen to raise risk of obesity and diabetes. Too much TV, especially violent TV, can find kids having more nightmares and sleep disorders. The commercials in between can cause them to desire junk food more often; and some have even said that two hours of daily TV viewing can shorten your lifespan by two years!
With all this talk about what’s bad for your kids and their learning ability, what about some stuff that can actually help them learn? Well, start with a good breakfast. Not only is it much needed fuel for learning, recent studies have shown that those kids who skip breakfast are at a higher risk for lead poisoning, which in turn causes learning disabilities and behavioral problems.
And even before your kid begins to eat, breastfeeding has also been shown to be an IQ booster. When looking at the results of a standardized academic test, the 10-year olds who were primarily breastfed for 6 months or longer had higher scores in all categories (mathematics, reading, writing, and spelling) than those who were breastfed for less than 6 months. However, there seemed to be a particularly greater effect among boys than girls. However, the effect of breastfeeding on academic achievement was weakened if the mother only finished high school (or less), had a trade (as opposed to working as a professional) or the family had an annual income of less than $36,000. Conversely, scores improved if the caregivers read or looked at books with the child when he was 3 to 5 years of age.
With all this gloomy news about TV and your kids, you may be asking yourself if you should just get rid of the flatscreen all together. But like all fun and delicious things, just practice moderation. Set limits for your kids and they will learn to have balance and maybe even enjoy more time with you.