SpongeBob SquarePants TV Poster Image

SpongeBob SquarePants



Edgy, frenetic animated comedy is iffy for youngest kids.
Popular with kids

What parents need to know

Educational value

The show entertains rather than educates.

Positive messages

Themes such as friendship and self-respect are mixed in with silly plots, name-calling, and other mischief.

Positive role models

SpongeBob is loyal to his friends; others don't get along so well. Some are smarter than others.

Violence & scariness

Cartoon violence often used to resolve conflicts; everyone survives. 

Sexy stuff

A few silly romantic plots, but nothing sexual. 


Words such as "stupid," "idiot." 


SpongeBob is a huge commercial franchise with merchandise, games, clothes, toys, and much more branded with his image.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants contains satirical humor that might confuse kids who can't separate fantasy and reality. There's lots of name-calling, mockery, and fantasy violence, but no one is really affected. Messages about friendship, perseverance, and self-respect are frequent, but the main characters' annoying behaviors and the overall silliness of the show sometimes make it hard to find. All in all, this is a real "know your kid" situation.

What's the story?

SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS (voiced by Tom Kenny) lives in Bikini Bottom on the floor of the Pacific Ocean. He works as a fry cook at the Krusty Krab restaurant and spends his down time with those he considers his two best buddies: a woefully unintelligent-but-lovable sea star named Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke), who returns SpongeBob's friendship; and a grouchy, six-tentacled octopus named Squidward (Rodger Bumpass), who doesn't. SpongeBob and Patrick embark on self-misguided adventures that always land them in some sort of absurd situation, but their spirits are never dampened by their off-the-wall predicaments. Nor are they ever put off by the constant ridicule and disdain they encounter from Squidward, who tries to steer clear of their antics but often finds himself in the middle of their messes as they try relentlessly to win his friendship.

Is it any good?


This show is sweet, well-intentioned, and full of zany humor and silly scenes that will appeal to many viewers. It also offers plenty of positive message about friendship, hard work, and loyalty.  SpongeBob is yellow, porous, and perpetually happy, and he'd likely be called a kitchen sponge more often than a sea sponge, but there's no doubt that he's one of the sea's most famous residents. Since the cheery fellow's debut in 1999, this cartoon series has earned a spot at the top of Nickelodeon's ratings chart and maintains a huge fan following that includes kids and adults.

But some aspects of SpongeBob Squarepants will leave parents wanting to preview the series before letting their kids watch. Characters often speak sarcastically and act rudely to each other -- and, unlike in real life, no one seems bothered by the mean-spirited things that are said. What's more, situations are often resolved with violence, and the frequent songs sometimes touch on iffy subject matter such as bombs and making fun of people. The fast pace of the show also might be a concern for parents, especially those of younger kids. Parents also might be put off by SpongeBob's often-annoying personality and his tendency to take jokes too far. Although his antics are funny on-screen, kids' SpongeBob imitations will probably drive adults crazy in the real world.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about friendship in SpongeBob SquarePants. Which characters are good friends? How do they show they care about each other? What do you do to show your friends you like them?

  • If your kids tend to believe everything they see, watch this show carefully with them and ask about what they see and what they understand.

  • How does the show reflect real marine life? What type of creature is each character? How do their depictions differ from their real-life versions?

  • How do the characters in SpongeBob SquarePants demonstrate gratitude? Why is this an important character strength?

TV details

Premiere date:May 1, 1999
Cast:Bill Fagerbakke, Rodger Bumpass, Tom Kenny
Networks:Nickelodeon, Nicktoons
Genre:Kids' Animation
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Ocean creatures
Character strengths:Gratitude
TV rating:TV-Y7
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of SpongeBob SquarePants was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 16 years old Written byhamstergurl09 November 28, 2010

Old Episodes Were Great, Now...Not So Much.

I LOVED Spongebob back in the late 90s early 2000s. The episodes were clever and funny. Now it's just overly used gross humor and slapstick. A little slapstick and gross humor is fine, but this is too much. This show was at its high point in 2003, I recommend you go watch those episodes. Pretty much any episode of this show from 2006 on (with the exception of the one where Squidward becomes handsome) is terrible.
Parent of a 6 and 8 year old Written byGI-ANT MOM April 10, 2010

Godd for kids of any age! Positive lessons in the end!

I have watched nearly every episode with my children and have found a prominent, positive message in nearly all of them. I would suspect parents who have not really sat with their children to watch might hear bits and peices and pass judgement, but if you see it through and actually take the time to sit with your children to explain things they might be unsure of, it is a perfect opportunity to talk with them heart to heart about real issues that they are or will deal with...Reality!Parents the real world is not like "Leave it to Beaver" and this show helps kids realize that bad things can happen including name calling and fighting etc. and that there are ways to deal with it. my sons have learned many positive words and lessons well beyond his years. Pay attention and you will see... compared to many other shows it is one of the best!
What other families should know
Great messages
Parent of a 2 and 4 year old Written byBurt Mom August 18, 2009

Not for Toddlers

My daughter came home from daycare saying that if you eat a bee you'll die because they put a bee in a krabby patty and fed it to someone and they died. After some research I've decided she probably saw the "Nasty Patty" episode where they feed the health inspector a krabby patty which has toe nail clippings, has been dropped in the toilet and cleaned with a dirty sock and a fly happens to get in his mouth and he chokes on it. While the inspector is choking they are saying "Watch him suffer". They then decide to bury the body so they don't go to jail. Now granted, the inspector isn't really dead, just unconscious, but this is NOT something I want my 4 year old watching for entertainment. I have not seen the episode personally (nor do I intend to), but it sounds AWFUL (I read the entire transcript) and inappropriate for younger children. It's more than just explaining to a child not to use certain language the characters use. I certainly should not be in a position where I'm telling my 4 year old that she should be burying a body in the yard or feeding gross and nasty things to people!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?