Monday, September 12, 2011

No more Bob Esponja for Molly!

When Pam and I were growing up, children’s TV (the little that there was) comprised stories  with a moral and characters that had middle class, BBC voices. They may not have excited our imagination too much but at least we were calm and quiet afterwards which was just what our parents wanted.

Was it Bill or was it Ben those naughty flowerpot men – little weed knew and I think the little house knew as well. Then there was Andy Pandy and of course Muffin the mule.

As our own children were growing up, the pace of children’s programs  increased, the voices changed and the presenters acted as though they had just been on a course of Pro-Plus and caffeine. It seemed to be all about getting the viewers up to fever pitch (remember Tiswas?). Characters in the cartoons came and went as the old brigade fell out of fashion.  The shouting got louder and the action became increasingly frenetic. 

One of the programs in vogue at the moment is SpongeBob or Bob Esponja as he is known in Spain. 

According to research by Prof Lillard, of the University of Virginia just nine minutes of watching SpongeBob can impair the ability of four-year-olds to learn.

Their “executive function”  was found to be severely compromised after watching the wacky fast-paced undersea adventures of SpongeBob. Prof Lillard, said: "A possibility is children identify with unfocused and frenetic characters — then adopt their characteristics."

She urged parents to bear this in mind when deciding which TV shows they let their kids watch. Prof Lillard said: "Executive function is extremely important to children's success in school and in everyday life.

"It's important to their psychological and physical wellbeing."

Molly is enough of a character, she does not need winding up by watching SpongeBob. Please Laura, wean her off the program before our next visit because Pam and I are too old to cope with an over active child who has lost her executive function. 

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