A new University of Virginia study examined the effects of watching "SpongeBob SquarePants" on small children.

Researchers determined that 4-year-old kids who watched nine minutes of "SpongeBob" compared to kids who watched PBS programming did significantly worse on four tests they administered. The study involved 60 kids.

Apparently the fast-paced television show "has profound impacts for children's cognitive and social development that need to be considered and reacted to," wrote University of Washington pediatrics professor Dr. Dimitri A. Christakis in an editorial accompanying the study.

In response to the study, Nickelodeon countered that "having 60 non-diverse kids, who are not part of the show's targeted demo, watch 9 minutes of programming is questionable methodology. It could not possibly provide the basis for any valid findings that parents could trust."  They added that the show is intended for children ages 6 to 11.

"SpongeBob SquarePants" is the brainchild of Stephen Hillenburg, who graduated CalArts with two degrees: one in Marine Biology, and the other in Animation. The titular character is a cheerful, yellow-skinned denizen of the deep shaped like a common bathroom sponge who wears a shirt, necktie and belted shorts.

SpongeBob lives in a pineapple shell in the underwater community of Bikini Bottom, where he works at the Krusty Krab restaurant and sometimes commiserates with a land squirrel who lives in a nearby biodome, and whose name is Sandy Cheeks.

Do you let your kids watch "SpongeBob?" Will this study change your decision?