There are some well-established side effects caused by letting your toddler watch too much Peppa Pig.
For one, your three-year-old may well develop a posh accent from absorbing the dialogue of the popular English children’s program.
They might even develop a penchant for left-wing politics — if you’re lucky, that is.
But in spite of what some media organisations might tell you, there is absolutely no evidence to back claims the show causes it’s young audience to develop autism.
A rather alarmist headline from Morning News USA.
A 2012 'study', purported to be from Harvard University apparently found that "children exposed to at least 30 minutes a day of the show have a 56% higher probability of developing autism."
According to Morning News USA, it came from epidemiologist Marc Wildemberg who, as a quick Google search will tell you, is not real or at least not really associated with the prestigious tertiary institution.
While that particular article does cleverly place a rather laden question mark at the end of their headline, as well as admitting within the piece the study might not be 100 per cent peer-reviewed (no, really?), they're not the only ones who've reported on it.
Apparently, the Peppa Pig causes autism red flag is raised every few years by alarmist, or at the very least over-worked, journalists, among others.
"The report is bogus," writes Luis Conejo on Medium, claiming he's seen the news more than once.
"Names of scientists, directors, experts, researchers and any other authority listed in these things usually give you a good starting point when validating the truth behind that little thing you are about to share with all your friends (hopefully not me)."
Peppa Pig and friends.
Conejo suggests a Google search of 'Harvard research on autism' for worried parents, which leads you to to scholar.google.com and a list of autism research done by Harvard University.
"Sad to say, Peppa Pig, porcine champion of autism, is not there," he says.
Conejo also recommends three simple steps when you encounter an article or headline that seems a little, well, far-fetched.
- Read the whole thing.
- Ask yourself: Is there a hidden agenda here?
- Check the sources mentioned.
Because look, Peppa Pig might be a little annoying and sanctimonious and she might even turn your child into a rabid socialist (fingers crossed) but just like vaccinations, there's no evidence this tiny cartoon pig will give your kid autism.
An accent? Well, that's another matter.