The Los Angeles Times reports on a study conducted by the University of Virginia’s department of psychology to determine if fast-paced television had an immediate impact on children’s memory and thinking skills. 60 4-year-olds were divided into three groups, one of which watched nine minutes of the fast-paced SpongeBob SquarePants from Nickelodeon, one of which watched nine minutes of the slower-paced Caillou from PBS, and one of which drew for nine minutes with markers and crayons. After viewing, the children were asked to perform four tests to evaluate executive function, with the first group scoring “significantly worse” than the others and the other two scoring about equally.
In comments to CNN about the study, Nickelodeon retorted that the study used “questionable methodology” and added that the kids in the study were younger than the intended audience of kids aged 6-11.
The University of Virginia’s press release on the study is here, and the abstract and full report (in PDF form) are available via the American Academy of Pediatrics.