You've heard that TV can rot a kid's brain -- but that's more than just a figure of speech. Fast-paced shows like "SpongeBob Squarepants" can turn bright kids into dimwits before the next commercial break.

In an experiment that borders on child abuse, 4-year-old kids were asked to watch nine minutes of either the fast-paced "SpongeBob" show or a gentler program called "Caillou," while a control group sat quietly and drew pictures.

I feel dumber just typing the name "SpongeBob Squarepants," so I wasn't surprised when I read in Pediatrics that the kids who watched it did worse on a bunch of mental tests afterwards -- suggesting short-term problems with learning, attention span, memory, and executive function… all after just nine minutes of dopey programming.

All told, the "SpongeBob" kids scored an average of 12 points lower than kids who watched "Caillou" or who sat quietly and drew pictures.

These kids even had a harder time with delayed gratification.

In one test, the children were timed to see how long they'd wait before eating a snack. And while the "Caillou" and crayon kids held out for an average of four minutes, the ones who watched "SpongeBob" grabbed for that snack after two and a half.

I've already seen TV-loving critics chime in to defend "SpongeBob" and blast the study -- but the bottom line here is that 4-year-old kids shouldn't be watching ANY television at all, much less something this stupid.

And yes, it IS stupid.

Just to be fair, I went online and watched some "SpongeBob" -- and I feel like I lost a little of my brain, too.