What’s in the Bible? and VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer will speak Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 5:50 AM CST on The Curtis Sliwa Show on New York’s WABC radio. You can listen to the show live at AM 970 The Apple’s web site.
Vischer will speak about a new study recently published which found that 4-year olds who watched nine minutes of the fast-paced SpongeBob Square Pants cartoon from Nickelodeon did worse on tasks requiring focus and self control than kids who watched a slower-paced cartoon.
But Phil Vischer, one of television’s most notable creators of children’s programs, is not surprised at all by the findings. Vischer is the creator of the animated children’s series, Veggie Tales, which sold more than 50 million copies. His newest series, Buck Denver Asks…What’s In The Bible?, uses puppets and animation to teach children about the tenets of Christianity through Bible stories.
According to Vischer, “Producers are forced to pace shows faster and faster to hold kid’s attention – to keep them from looking away. The same dynamic is also true for parents, illustrated by cable news giving us shorter and shorter stories, and packing in more onscreen graphics, crawls, etc. As if no human could possibly sit with one story for more than 30 seconds.”
Vischer says that some of the “acceleration of kid’s TV” credit goes to the popular, long-running PBS series Sesame Street. “The show was explicitly inspired by 30 second TV commercials for their format, rather than the slower, longer formats of other shows of the era such as Mr. Rogers.”
With Vischer’s own children’s programs, the producer says he tries to mix it up with a fast-paced story but bookended by slower, Mr. Rogers-style hosting segments. “Kids can be entertained by a fast-paced story, but we need to slow things down if they’re going to find meaning in the events they have seen,” said Vischer.
Shows like SpongeBob (and other elementary/’tween targeted programs) don’t have “finding meaning” as an objective, said Vischer. Therefore, the producers don’t feel the need to slow down, ever. “It’s like sitting a kid in front of a strobe light. He can’t look away,” Vischer said.