Recently, there has been a great amount of debate concerning the stigma that is children’s television programming. As children’s programs have been evolving over the years, so have the studies related to finding out the effect of television viewing on young children. Some shows have come under fire, but to choose a specific (and somewhat polarizing) example we can look no further than “Spongebob Squarepants”.
Since the show’s inception of 10 years ago, there have been accusations leveled towards the shows programming that include the overt promotion of homosexuality, adult-themed jokes, and inhibiting the mental ability of toddlers. The flamboyant and obnoxious sponge who lives under the sea has been known to attempt to raise an orphaned clam with his male friend Patrick (gasp!) and make jokes that indeed would pass right over the heads of the 3 year old children that psychologists and other scientists place in front of Spongebob and other programs to study the effect they have on young minds. In addition, the show doesn’t always have a very obvious moral at the end of the show.
So should we take Spongebob Squarepants off the air and execute the writers of the show for sedition and the dumbing-down of our youth? Maybe. But allow me to offer another solution: Parents, stop showing Spongebob Squarepants to your 3 year olds. If you are willing to accept that the jokes on the show are meant for an older audience, and that the plot is not simple and formulaic enough (despite an episode only having a run time of about 12 minutes), then perhaps you are ready for the next logical step. One could now conclude that Spongebob is not intended for audiences as young as 3 or 4 years old, but rather an audience at least a few years older. It is the parents’ prerogative to decide what to allow their children to watch, and if a parent decides to plop a developing mind down in front of any old program on their preferred cartoon network, then they should be responsible for the consequences. It should never be blamed on the producers or writers of the show, because they know who they want to reach and they can’t control the negligence of parents who can’t make informed decisions concerning the education and entertainment of their children.