Little Kids Can't Watch Spongebob Before Bed Because It's Too Awesome

Human babies have long been observed to be inferior to their adult counterparts, in part because they are not old enough to compete (legally) in the Olympics, smart enough to solve Sudoku puzzles with no help, or tall enough to hand me that thing from the top shelf.

Now a study from the medical journal Pediatrics has found that they're not even cool enough to watch all the best cartoons without freaking out and having nightmares about them.

"The idea that people might just explode is scary for a 3-year-old." – study author Michelle Garrison

The experiment followed 565 grunge-toddlers aged 3 to 5 who live and rock in the Seattle area. Those children who were exposed to only "age-appropriate" viewing materials in the hour before bed were found to be 64 percent less likely to exhibit any type of sleep disturbance, including trouble falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, or nightmares.

The refreshing thing about this study was that it didn't attempt to reduce the total number of hours of media exposure, which is great for little kids who just wanna watch TV all the time. Instead, researchers aimed to swap out violent and age inappropriate content for more boring programming.

As lead author Michelle Garrison explained, though, what constitutes an age-inappropriate program for kids is not always obvious for people who don't take two seconds to stop and think about it:

"The fact that 'Bugs Bunny' can be too violent for a 3-year-old is not something that always clicks with some families. Yes, they may know that (a preschooler) shouldn't watch the latest 'Transformers' movie, but they may not necessarily make that same association with cartoons that have...funny violence or superhero violence..."

Among those cartoons deemed age-inappropriate for the Weak Babies of America: Spongebob Squarepants, Batman, and hentai pornography (not explicitly named in the study, but probably safe to assume).

Instead of these programs, Garrison suggests children watch Dora the Explorer, a show about an unaccompanied minor who spends her days wandering lost through the wilderness and speaking aloud to her hiking equipment, or Curious George, a docu-series which follows the fitful attempts of a childless adult male to raise a wild animal as a kind of ersatz human son.

The authors did, of course, note that under ideal circumstances, kids wouldn't be exposed to non-stop television throughout the day — or at least in the hour just before bed.

In response, parents and kids said "Whaaaat? Noooo."

The study will be published in the September issue of Pediatrics but was released online Monday.

[U.S. News and World Report // Detroit Free Press // Pediatrics // Image via AP]