Effect of fast-paced cartoons on kids

Your kids' cartoons may be doing more than offering them a few laughs.

A new study finds watching fast-paced cartoons may affect their ability to do things like plan, organize or strategize.

Don Caserta did not take part in the study, but treats attention deficit hyperactivity disorder at Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital.

"What they found was that children who were exposed to a clip of a fast-paced cartoon did more poorly on outcomes that were assessing executive functioning, like attention control, impulse control, and delay of gratification than children who watched a slower-paced show and a control group who were allowed to free-draw for 9 minutes," said Don Caserta L.,I.,S.,W. of Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital.

Researchers at the University of Virginia tested the effects of a fast-paced cartoon on 60 four-year-olds.

Some of them watched the fast-paced cartoon, others watched an educational cartoon, and a third group drew for nine minutes.

They were then given four tasks testing their executive function including the delay-of-gratification and tower of Hanoi tasks.

Results show children who watched the fast-paced television cartoon performed significantly worse on the executive function tasks than children in the other two groups.

Researchers say parents should be aware just nine minutes of viewing a fast-paced television cartoon could at least temporarily impair a young child's organizing skills and impulses.

Caserta says parents should be setting limits on screen time, but more research needs to be done.

"This is not a study showing that there are detrimental effects to a child's brain development, that's clearly not the case here. More research needs to be done before we ever make a statement like that. But it is a preliminary study that actually raises more questions than it answers. More research needs to be done before we really understand what this means," Caserta said.

Complete findings for this study are in the journal "Pediatrics."

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