SpongeBob: Bad For America’s Kids

A new study from the University of Virginia suggests that fast-paced television, defined by the researchers in the following way — “To quantify pacing, the 2 television episodes were viewed for the number of times a complete scene change occurred (eg, from swimming pool to bedroom). For the fast-paced show, the scene completely changed on average every 11 seconds; even within the scene, characters were almost constantly rapidly moving through space. The educational television show had a
complete scene change every 34 seconds on average” — has a negative impact on children’s self-control and attention span. I’d be curious to know, though, how much that has to do on whether the information conveyed from scene to scene builds on information you’ve received previously. If the Ghostwriter kids are bopping from the community garden to the bodega to Lenni’s studio to Jamal’s townhouse because they’re putting together clues in a case, wouldn’t that make viewers tune out distractions and focus on what the kids are learning along the way? I guess Ghostwriter and Sponge Bob, which the study used as a test show, are aimed at different ages when kids have different levels of cognition. But I’d be curious to know at which age kids start to be able to follow a narrative, and what kinds of narratives are a reach that help them learn versus which sort of narratives are just too complicated for them.