SpongeBob SquarePants is in some hot water.
The cartoon character is at the center of a study suggesting that watching just nine minutes of that program can cause attention and learning problems.
The study took 60 four-year-olds and randomly assigned them to watch SpongeBob or the slower-paced PBS cartoon Caillou, or had them draw pictures.
Right after the nine-minute assignments, the kids took mental function tests; those who had watched SpongeBob did measurably worse than the others.
Should parents soak up this new study's facts about SpongeBob?
Previous research linked TV-watching with long-term attention problems, but the new study suggests problems can also occur after very little exposure.
Kids' cartoon shows typically feature about 22 minutes of action, so watching a full program "could be more detrimental," the researchers speculated.
The results should be interpreted cautiously because of the study's small size, but the data bolster the idea that media exposure is a public health issue.
Fortunately, no studies were done in which they had to watch Kim Kardashian and her siblings on Keeping Up. Talk about scarring the kiddos for life.