Some of our children's favourite cartoons are damaging their ability to concentrate, a new study has claimed.
Psychologists in the US found that four-year-olds shown clips of modern fast-paced animations, such as the popular Spongebob Squarepants, performed significantly worse in memory, attention and logic tests than those who spent their time drawing instead.
The study, published in the current issue of Pediatrics, put 60 American four-year-olds into three groups. One group watched a nine-minute clip from Spongebob Squarepants, in which scenes change every 11 seconds on average, while another group watched an educational cartoon where scenes changed every 34 seconds.
The third group was given paper and crayons and allowed to draw for the same period of time.
The children were then asked to complete several exercises, designed to test their logic, concentration and short-term memory.
The group that watched the fast-paced cartoon performed half as well as the children that watch the educational clip, who performed half as well again as those allowed to draw.
Study leader Dr Angeline Lillard from the University of Virginia said the study's findings should make parents seriously reconsider the type of TV shows they let their children watch.
"Given the popularity of some fast-paced television cartoons among young children, it is important that parents are alert to the possibility of lower levels of executive function in young children at least immediately after watching such shows," she said.
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