Phil Vischer to speak on WABC on Tuesday

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.

 

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3 comments
Melissa
Melissa

My husband & I don't even let our 14month old daughter watch Sponge Bob or any other PBS show for that matter....it's not educational in the sense of "finding meaning". We only allow her to watch value-educational programs such as Wonder Pets, Barney, Back Yardigans, & every now & then Dora the Explorer.......she used to watch Sesame Street, but now b/c of all the PC (political correctness) we've even had to filter that!

Michael Jones
Michael Jones

Kids can focus on one thing for longer periods of time. Last night my 3-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son sat mesmerized at YouTube watching Kermit the Frog sing "The Rainbow Connection" sitting on a log in a swamp basically doing nothing, then they watched him wander through a forest looking at trees and singing "Bein' Green" - those two clips alone are fairly long and not at all ADD/jump cut types of stuff. Then we watched "Halfway Down The Stairs" (with Kermit's nephew Robin, from The Muppet Show) which is a longish, sitting still ballad as well. I was truly surprised that they sat still the whole time and didn't say a word. (Then we took in some "Movin' Right Along" and "I Hope That Something Better Comes Along" and about three different versions of "Mahna Mahna" - only the classics for MY children!)

Renee
Renee

I agree with the not "finding meaning" statement. This is one of several reason I do not allow my children to watch it and do not like it. I do not like the humor and it teaches no good characters or morals. It is mindless! Some of the humor and character traits exhibited are are even bad. Whatever is pure, whatever is lovely..think on these things. Spongebob is not good to dwell on or think on or be sucked into. I also agree with the strobe light statement and not being able to look away. We do not watch spongebob at home. However, my autistic daughter's therapy agency started playing sponge bob and I complained because when it would come on it drew my daughter to it like a magnet. We could not get her attention unless we turned off the program. We could not talk to her with it on.I have not seen this happen with other programs to that degree. And all that played in the episode over and over was the phrase "I am gonna kick your butt!"Ok that is not a phrase or character that I want her picking up and thinking is ok! I totally agree. BTW, my kids love "What's in the Bible and are very drawn to it in a good wholesome way".