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Off the Record

Parents need to monitor their children's activities

Earlier this month we heard the news, a study revealed children who watched the SpongeBob SquarePants program showed less ability to focus and to problem solve. It hit the newsstands last week; and now every columnist is writing about the show. Is it good? Is it bad?

People from all over the nation are expressing personal opinions of the show, many believing the show is not suitable for small children. But in reality, should we blame a network cartoon for a child's behavior? Absolutely not.

Whatever my personal opinions of the show are; should one show be held responsible for children acting out or lacking the ability to obey a parent?

A statement released by the researchers said it wasn't the show itself that proved to impair the children's ability to focus, but fast paced media in general. But that didn't stop the media from releasing headlines that said "Is SpongeBob bad for your children?" and the like.

In the study that was released in Pediatrics, it was noted the typical child today begins watching television at four months of age and is engaged with media for up to eight hours a day.

"Simply put, television is both good and bad: there are good programs and bad ones," the study added.

The basis of the study was to show levels of focus in children depending on the type of activities they engaged in. Of the more than 50 children participating in the study, they were randomly selected to participate in one of three activities. First was to watch the show, SpongeBob SquarePants; second was to watch a more educationally geared show and third spend time drawing objects on paper.

What is perhaps most interesting is that Nickelodeon released a statement saying that SpongeBob SquarePants is a show intended for ages 6-11. The study, however, involved four-year-old children. (Well under the age limit Nickelodeon says the show is appropriate for.)

Is it the network's fault that parents aren't keeping a closer eye on what their children are watching? No, of course not. The show isn't at fault in this situation; it's the parents who are now publicly complaining about the show. When did it become OK to blame someone else for your responsibilities?

Parents should pay more attention to the needs of their children before blaming a show for a child's misbehavior. It's absolutely ridiculous to blame this show for anything, other than providing 30 minutes of mindless entertainment. If your children can't control their behavior, it's not a television program's fault; it's yours.

Instead of blaming the program, why not turn off the television and show more hands-on interest in your children?

In fact, it was Nickelodeon that hosted a "turn off the TV" campaign last year. For three hours of that September day all programming was stopped. From noon to 3 p.m. on Sept. 25, 2010, the idle screen encouraged children to turn off the television in hopes of inspiring "kids and families to get up and get active," according to the network's wellness campaign.

Of course if your children absolutely must watch the TV, when deciding which show to watch, there is always the fallback of good judgment.

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