U.Va. psychologists tested 4-year-old children immediately after they had watched nine minutes of the popular show "SpongeBob SquarePants" and found that their executive function – the ability to pay attention, solve problems and moderate behavior – had been severely compromised when compared to 4-year-olds who had either watched nine minutes of "Caillou," a slower-paced, realistic public television show, or had spent nine minutes drawing.
"There was little difference on the tests between the drawing group and the group that watched 'Caillou,'" said lead investigator Angeline Lillard, a psychology professor in U.Va.'s College of Arts & Sciences.
Lillard said there may be two reasons that a fast-paced and fantastical show would have a negative effect on the learning and behavior of young children.
"It is possible that the fast pacing, where characters are constantly in motion from one thing to the next, and extreme fantasy, where the characters do things that make no sense in the real world, may disrupt the child's ability to concentrate immediately afterward," she said. "Another possibility is that children identify with unfocused and frenetic characters, and then adopt their characteristics."
The children in the study, whether they watched the television shows or drew, were tested immediately afterward for how well they solved problems and followed rules, remembered what they had been told, and were able to delay gratification.
Lillard advises parents to consider the findings when making decisions as to which television shows to allow their young children to watch – if they watch television at all.
"Parents should know that children who have just watched 'SpongeBob Squarepants,' or shows like it, might become compromised in their ability to learn and behave with self-control," she said.
Lillard and her co-author, graduate student Jennifer Peterson, said that 4-year-olds are in an important development stage of their lives and that what they watch on television may have lasting effects on their lifelong learning and behaviors. Their study, however, focused on the immediate effects.
"Young children are beginning to learn how to behave as well as how to learn," Lillard said. "At school, they have to behave properly, they need to sit at a table and eat properly, they need to be respectful, and all of that requires executive functions. If a child has just watched a television show that has handicapped these abilities, we cannot expect the child to behave at their normal level in everyday situations."
She recommends that parents use creative learning activities, such as drawing, using building blocks and board games, and playing outdoors to help their children develop sound behaviors and learning skills.
"Executive function is extremely important to children's success in school and in everyday life," Lillard said. "It's important to their psychological and physical well-being."
Dan Heuchert | EurekAlert!
Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung
High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg
Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.
So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
28.10.2016 | Life Sciences
28.10.2016 | Life Sciences