This Just In: Spongebob Makes You Dumber

Taken from

Mom friends of mine, I want you to take just a moment today to celebrate a small victory with me. We spend many minutes of our day making unpopular decisions our kids don’t understand. We are sometimes perceived as the cosmic killjoys in our family’s universe because we insist on such trivialities as clean underwear, brushed teeth, and limits on time with devices that require batteries or have to be plugged into the wall. But once in a long while the method to our madness is revealed in such a way, we have to ask the whole world to pause with us for just a moment to acknowledge our rightness. This morning was one of those moments for me.

Almost every morning I turn on Good Morning America while the kids are getting ready for school. Until Phineas and Ferb includes a news crawl at the bottom of the screen, my morning time with George, Robin, Sam, Josh, and Lara will probably be my only chance at knowing what is happening in the un-animated world. I get the weather forecast so I know whether or not to send the kids to school with a jacket, I hear the latest news stories, and I might even find a recipe that will help me solve my daily dilemma of what to make for supper. But today I received something unexpected: sweet vindication.

Today Josh Elliott reported what I’ve been telling my kids for years: Watching Spongebob makes you dumber. A recent study showed that watching the undersea pineapple dweller for a even a few minutes affected preschoolers’ abstract thinking, impulse control, and short-term memory, i.e. made them dumber. All three kids just happened to be in the living room and they all heard the report. With wide-eyed astonishment they slowly turned their sweet little heads to me to see if I’d heard. With heartfelt conviction and at the top of my lungs, I declared “I TOLD YOU SO!” And then I may or may not have done the victory dance.

I saw Spongebob for the first time in 2002. A pastor friend of mine who was planting a church in Kauai, Hawaii asked me to write some Vacation Bible skits for him using the puppets he had on hand: a dinosaur, a Hispanic boy puppet, an Asian girl puppet, a Caucasian boy puppet, and Spongebob Squarepants. Oh, and if I could work the plan of salvation into one of the skits, he would greatly appreciate it. Not able to back away from a good challenge, I accepted his request. Since I had never watched Spongebob, I didn’t know how to write dialogue for him that would sound like something he would actually say. So one afternoon, I sat down and watched an episode. I could feel brain cells dying as I watched and had to turn it off after about three minutes. My oldest was only a year old at the time, but then and there I added Spongebob Squarepants to the list of shows that would no longer be appearing on our TV. I’m sure Barney and Caillou were glad to have a new friend on the banned list.

When my kids were old enough to realize that a lot of their friends were fans of the little yellow sponge they started asking why we didn’t watch Spongebob. I answered truthfully, Spongebob will kill your brain cells. They always looked at me like they thought I was just making stuff up, but today I was able to present them with scientific proof. I’ll be anxiously awaiting further studies about the effects of Pair of Kings and Zeke and Luther.

I had no other reason for this post except to gloat. Honestly, I needed something lighthearted after Β the raw emotions of all the 9/11 commemorations and special programming this weekend. Plus our church just started a series based on the book Radical by David Platt. Apparently, I was the only person in the world who had not read this book. It has been on my shelf for months now, but honestly, I wasn’t sure I wanted to read it, because I knew it would Β (as my initial reading of it is proving to be true) be irritating. Light and fluffy it is not. So today’s post is light. And spongey.

Also, since I didn’t get Friday’s post up until late Friday night, I won’t select CD winners until tonight. Remember, all comments for both Thursday’s and Friday’s posts are going into a drawing for one of two copies of Shaun Groves’ new CD Third World Symphony. I promise ( if the good Lord’s willin’ and the creek don’t rise), I’ll tell you the winner tomorrow.

In the meantime, I want to know which kids’ shows are banned at your house. And are they banned because you don’t like the values, morals, or lack thereof, or because they get on your very last nerve? (I’m looking at you, Caillou.) Are there any kids’ shows that you actually don’t mind watching? My husband and I were caught watching Phineas and Ferb after the kids had gone to bed and have been known to DVR episodes that the kids have already seen but we haven’t. Β What do you guys like to watch?




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38 responses to “This Just In: Spongebob Makes You Dumber

  1. Girl, I would so be doing the happy dance with you! I’ve been telling my kids the SAME THING!!! Oh, and Caillou and Barney are also on my never-allowed-in-my-house list, along with Yo Gabba Gabba and WonderPets. I have a strict rule against brain numbers and obvious speech impediments in main characters. (Sorry, Baby Bear from Sesame Street. You’re on the list, too.) VALIDATION!!!! πŸ™‚

    • By the way, I didn’t mean numbers as in numerals, but rather things that numb and destroy our brains. Obviously, I’ve fallen victim one too many times or I would have noticed my typo before publishing that comment. πŸ˜‰

      • whimzie

        Ha! I was racking my brain trying to figure out if brain numbers was some new scientific phenomenon that I had missed somehow! Thanks for the clarification! Too funny!

    • Fancy Pants

      Lol adults are insane, what’s up with yall wanting to control what yall’s children watch? Yall sound like the people working our government. Yeah it doesn’t make much sense, kids brain cells could possibly die watching it, but I look at Family Guy, and South Park, and Regular show and all these new shows coming out that kids are watching now a day’s can’t be compared to Spongebob. My point is shows are going to get worse and worse over the years becuase your children honestly don’t care, and they are just going to watch shows like that anyhow.

  2. nwhannas

    Well…I kinda like Patrick. But yeah…no true redeeming quality to that show. I used to love Sesame Street before Elmo moved in. And Baby Bear.

    Teletubbies used to be on our banned list–simply because it was freaky. BUT…then we traveled with a one- and three- year old to The Netherlands, and it was on TV when we got to “our” house, exhausted, and willing to trade our children’s brain cells in for a few minutes of peace and quiet.

    More irritating to me than the dumb shows (I guess) are the shows with the gum-popping, smart-aleck tweens/teens, who know it all and make their parents look stupid.

    Because we’re not stupid. We didn’t have access to Sponge Bob when we were growing up, so duh! Much more intelligent.


  3. This really made me laugh. And, I was out of the loop about today’s SpongeBob developments, so I was thrilled to hear the news. Not a fan, as you can probably tell. Great timing with your kids, too.

    • whimzie

      Hi and welcome, Island Mom! I’ve been an Island Mom a couple of times. I’m now Coastal Mom, but I’m not complaining.

      Thanks for joining me in my vindication party!

  4. Barney is definitely on the list. Sponge Bob has been on the list from the beginning- we received a SB lamp as a gag gift when our first daughter was on the horizon- my husband loved it- I cringed. My kids have asked to watch it and I always say no. They haven’t asked why yet, but I’m glad to have evidence! I don’t have any other shows on my list that I can think of, other than nothing with Barbie- no Barbie DVDs, no Barbie dolls, etc. It just goes against my grain as a human. πŸ™‚

    • whimzie

      Before kids I vowed and declared Barbie would never enter my house. Then my blonde-haired, blue-eyed daughter was born. People keep giving her Barbie stuff! We’ve had several discussions about how Barbie isn’t real and that no one really looks like that….well, unless they’ve paid a surgeon a lot of money!

  5. Carrie

    Mostly, tv is banned in my house. When my 3 year old does get a bit of screen time, I typically pick a movie or “pre-recorded and released on dvd” shows because then I know the characters and there is no advertising! If he is watching tv, the banned ones are the usual – Sponge Bob, Barney, Caillou πŸ˜‰ When I was younger and had a niece that lived @ home, our list included TeleTubbies, Power Rangers and a few others too πŸ™‚

    • whimzie

      We’ve tried to do that, too: tape appropriate stuff that we can all watch together as a family. I hate that almost nothing that comes on primetime TV is suitable for family watching. Where’s our Cosby Show or Andy Griffith?

  6. Holy guacamole, I am so excited!! Barney was banned before I had kids. He just creeped me out. Then my best friend warned me about SpongeBob and after sitting through a show (again before I had kids) with my nephew, I knew I would not be allowing it in my home. Caillou is banned as is WonderPets for the same speech impediment reason.
    Most of what is on NickJr is okay, but I am hating most of what Cartoon Network is showing at all hours of the day.
    I have a 6 year old who wants to watch Anime and a 4 year old who still enjoys The Backyardigans.
    In order to minimize the amount of brain-numbing television we watch I invested in a lot of Disney movies and they can watch them all they want on the weekends.

    • whimzie

      Cartoon Network is such a misnomer. There’s very little that comes on that channel my kids can watch. We were excited about the possibilities of a new Looney Tunes until we watched it. Not impressed,

      We’re starting to amass quite the Disney movie collection ourselves. And Pixar. We love Pixar!

  7. Bdot

    So I don’t usually make a comment and while I totally agree that Spongebob is the dumbest cartoon ever made along with it’s dumb theme song which is so annoying – I’ll have to ask for clarification about Barney & Caillou – either it’s been so long since I’ve watched them or I’m just missing it. Please explain – just for my peace of mind considering my youngest kid is in 8th grade. Thanks!

    • whimzie

      You’re not asking who Barney is, right? The big purple dinosaur? He just jumped up and down on my last nerve. I think it was the voice. And his children friends who were over earnest actors. And that Baby Boop character.

      Caillou is the bald, whiny four-year-old. None of my kids really needed a tutor to sharpen their whining skills and that seemed to be Caillou’s specialty.

      • Bdot

        Thanks for the clarification. I understand the Barney irritation but don’t recall Caillou being whiny – could be I was distracted by my own children’s whinning. I guess all is good here since we’ve outgrown that age of TV-land!

  8. Because I'm the Mom, That's Why

    “what’s up with yall wanting to control what yall’s children watch?” Can’t stop laughing! Anecdotal evidence right here!

  9. I knew it, I knew it! I said the same thing! Woohoo, Mom’s not as dumb as she looks! Spongebob has always been on the ban list, though Caillou is not, but he is getting on my nerves. Thankfully, my son never liked Barney and doesn’t like a lot of others. I’m enjoying that till he gets old enough to be influences what other kids at school say they are watching.

    • whimzie

      I miss the days when they didn’t know what they were “missing.”

      According to my fifth grader, he’s the only ten-year-old in the entire world whose parents doesn’t let him watch certain things or play certain video games or have a phone or drive or go to Vegas for the weekend. Yeah, I’m just kidding about those last two.

  10. Amy

    I hear adults say they like Phineas and Ferb. I’ll need to check it out. Honestly, I saw 3 minutes of it one day, saw something I didn’t like (attitude or backtalk maybe? can’t remember), so I told the children it was a big kids show that we don’t watch and turned it off. They know that the non-animated shows on the Disney channel are not an option for them at their age. Max and Ruby bug me because of Max’s “bad decisions.” We watch, though, and talk about why Max made a bad decision and the consequences. I do like little Caillou (“baldy”), but I think we’ve outgrown him. Yo Gabba Gabba used to scare me (it’s like a preschool rave), but now I enjoy it. This child of the 80’s loves that Biz Markie is teaching my children how to beatbox.

    • whimzie

      Yours may be a little young for P&F just yet.

      This may be crazy, but the biggest thing that bugs me about Max and Ruby is that I KNOW they changed Ruby’s. I don’t like the new Ruby’s voice that much. By the way, where are Max & Ruby’s parents?!

      I had a fear of Yo Gabba Gabba, too! That and the baby sun on Teletubbies! They both freak me out a little.

  11. The Disney channel is pretty much the no-no channel at my house. Anna Grace would LOVE to watch all those i-Carley and Good Luck Charlie type shows- oh and the one with the two twin boys on it- but we just decided that we weren’t going to go there.

    Oh the yes list is Electric Company, Fetch with Ruff Ruffman, old re-runs of the Cosby Show and Brady Bunch.

    And the little ones like Word World.

    And everyone’s happy. πŸ™‚

    • whimzie

      When we lived in Boston my oldest wanted to be on Fetch with Ruff Ruffman! He wasn’t old enough and now it’s cancelled. I really like that show. Every now and then my kids still come up with something that I’m surprised they know that they learned from Fetch.

  12. OK, it’s time for the wet-blanket engineer to appear. While SpongeBob was (and continues to be) on our non-approved TV show list, I think the conclusions from the study are specious at best.

    First of all, in my attempt to find the actual data behind this study, I was disappointed to discover that the American Academy of Pediatrics actually released a summary of results to NBC *before* releasing the actual data to the scientific community for peer review. A big a no-no.

    Second, from the information I was able to glean from news outlets (since I couldn’t find the actual data, since it hasn’t been released yet), they had a 60 person study. A mere 60 kids, split into three groups of 20. That is unbelievable small, to the point of being statistically insignificant.

    Third, they didn’t seem to do any pre-viewing control testing, but simply tested one group of kids against another. No control = another big no-no.

    Fourth, they only performed one test, after a grand total of 9 minutes of viewing. Really? And this is supposed to be a scientific methodology?

    Look, I’m all for parents making informed choices about what their kids should and shouldn’t do. But I’d rather just use the good old standby “Because I don’t like it” rationale instead of defending my argument with dubious study results. Because while I think, ultimately, the “conclusions” drawn from this limited study could be correct, I’m afraid of the precedent created by allowing poorly generated results to be disseminated as truth. Regardless of whether further study is done on this exact issue, these results will now become the de facto truth for others to assail. And while SpongeBob may not be the biggest threat to society, these types of studies open the door for other, possibly more harmful pseudo-science supported ideas.

    • whimzie

      Luckily for me, because of their cartoon watching my kids won’t have the attention span to read your comment so they’ll never know the study was flawed. πŸ™‚

      Oh, I’ve been wearing the daylights out of the “because I don’t like it” explanation. And maybe the study isn’t valid, but you’ll never be able to take away that moment when their heads jerked towards me to see if I’d heard what they heard and for just one sweet second, Mama knew best. It was a sweet, sweet moment that I have laid up like treasure in my heart.

      Love you, NotNed!

  13. I am SO with you on the annoyance factor…. I loathe Max & Ruby myself. πŸ˜‰

  14. My kids have grown up and beyond SpongeBob — both watched regularly when they were younger and both are very smart — both academically and intuitively. Neither have focus problems, either.

    Everything in moderation is what I preach and while I found your post hilarious, I have to say that I never believe a “study” — I’d go insane otherwise.

    • whimzie

      Amen to moderation!

      And honestly, this post was tongue in cheek. I feel sorry for any mom who parents according to the latest survey. I hope she has a special savings account for the therapy bills.

  15. This just in: Phineas and Ferb can be seen FROM THE VERY FIRST EPISODE on streaming Netflix!
    Phineas and Ferb: It’s Not Just for Children Anymore

  16. We’ve never watched Spongebob, either, and I’m trying like crazy to remember what show I watched with the girls last week that made me say I had just brain cells, but they must have been memory cells ’cause I can’t remember. (So Random! My daughter reminded me! blech)
    We also don’t watch Wizards of Waverly Place b/c they’re wizards. I don’t like Ant Farm (rude) or Shake It Up (gets on my nerves) but I haven’t actually forbidden them.
    My husband and I used to get caught watching Hannah Montana after the girls were in bed, though. And I love the High School Musical movies! We’re all in this together!

  17. Oh, and I found Barney annoying but harmless, and thought the Wonder Pets were kinda cute. I think Max and Ruby are cute, too, but I too ask…where are their parents? Are they with the Peanuts gang’s folks?

  18. Chris

    Never saw Phineas and Ferb until I saw where Caroline “accidentally” recorded 48 episodes on our dvr earlier this summer… I have to say that I really like it…she loves Good Luck Charlie too which isn’t too bad. No Cailou, Waverly Place Witches, Spongebob, Simpsons or any cartoon that appears on FOX! I introduced her to the Boomerang network and now she loves Pink Panther and Penelope Pit-Stop. (There’s a platypus controlling me and I just can’t stop!)

  19. Emma

    Well I’ve been watching Spongebob for a few years and I’m in GT

  20. TelosMayCry

    I’m a 17 year old. I grew up watching EVERYTHING on cartoon network and playing video games as much as i wanted. I’m a senior in high school, I have a 4.0 GPA , a full scholarship to Bloomfield College in New Jersey and 2100 on my SAT’s. Its got NOTHING to do with what your children watch. it how you ALLOW it to influence them. As long as your children can understand the fine line between reality and fiction they should be fine. You all seem to be over protective of your children which is normal in mothers but this is just out of hand. Now i understand you only want the best for your children but lets be reasonable and at least give them some incentive to choose the better option. Great Minds DO NOT think alike. Great minds think for themselves.

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