Why can't people just leave poor SpongeBob alone? Are they just jealous haters? Do they secretly covet his pineapple under the sea?

Back in '05 he faced scrutiny because some Christian evangelical group's leader thought that he was gay, and now, a study suggests that he's rotting the brains of America's youth. (At least he's not eating their brains. Though how awesome would zombie SpongeBob be?)

The study, published online today by the medical journal Pediatrics, found watching even just a little bit of  SpongeBob negatively affected 4-year-olds’ attention spans.Watching a more realistic PBS cartoon did not. Umm... In my experience, 4-year-olds don't have much of an attention span, anyway! I kind of doubt that it has anything to do with what they're watching (but I'm not a doctor). In fact, sometimes the only thing that can keep a kid's attention is SpongeBob!

Researchers at the University of Virginia recruited 60 mostly white and middle- or upper-middle-class 4-year-olds and divided them into three groups at random. One group watched a 9-minute clip of "SpongeBob SquarePants," a second watched a 9-minute clip of "Caillou," the PBS cartoon about a preschool boy, and the third drew pictures for 9 minutes instead of watching any sort of TV show.

Right after the activities, the researchers tested the kids' ability to focus on a task and not be distracted, something they call "executive function".

Well, the PBS and drawing kids did wayyyyy better than the SpongeBob kids when it came to the whole "executive function" thing, but I find flaw in this whole thing. If the kid was already drawing, isn't it just easy for them to keep doing what they're doing? Maybe the kids watching "Caillou" didn't like the show so they were happy to have something else to do!

The fact of the matter is actually that SpongeBob isn't really geared toward children that young. On Nick Jr.'s website, they actually don't even show it as a show that's recommended for pre-schoolers.

Do you let your kids watch cartoons that may be geared to a little bit of an older audience? Do you think that it has hurt their ability to focus?

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

[ABCNews.com]