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Why it's good to let Spongebob baby-sit the kids

By Jane Graham

Published 01/04/2013

Spongebob Squarepants
Spongebob Squarepants

So it turns out TV isn't bad for children after all. This'll be interesting.

How often I have sat in a café surrounded by toddler-nursing mums naughtily confessing to each other that, when they're REALLY knackered, yes they do let their kids watch half an hour of CBeebies. This is why I never did mums and babies coffee mornings. I could never work out if these women were serious, and they really did see briefly surrendering to the baby-sitting charms of Teletubbies as bad-ass white-knuckle parenting.

Surely some, like me, were hoping their kids would be advanced enough to move on from Balamory to gore-filled Horrible Histories and sardonic Spongebob Squarepants by the time they were four. Ideally, we'd then watch TV side by side for hours at a time, happy in the knowledge that both of us were upgrading our sarcasm in order to prepare for the day we would watch our first Jim Carrey/Mike Myers/Jack Black movie together.

Research this week says that children can watch TV three hours a day and (presuming they're not watching certificate 18 films, or mindless rubbish like A Question of Sport) be entirely unaffected. Which might wipe the smile off all the sanctimonious CBeebies 'as a treat' mums. I've never been ashamed of my kids' love for good, funny and yes – gasp – American TV like iCarly and Phineas & Ferb. My son's teacher tells me he has an unusually sophisticated sense of humour. Cool. That'll be all those disrespectful anti-school gags he's heard on Spongebob.

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