Updated: Feb 13
Recently, I posted on social media that my daughter loves to watch Cocomelon. It's literally her favourite show... I can't stress that enough! Lol! Anywho, after posting that, an old classmate brought it to my attention that recently she came across a post saying that the famous children's show has been deemed overstimulating to young children by "experts". Now, before you go sounding the war cry for me, her career is in education so she reads about stuff for kids all the time to better her teaching experience and she didn't come across condescendingly or anyway like that - she just wanted to give me the heads up.
Sighhhh... Ok. Here I go down the rabbit hole again.
Firstly, screen time for children has always been a touchy subject for parents, especially first-time parents. How much screen time should a child have daily? At what age should a child start watching screens? etc etc etc. Some parents have strict rules for their children and some use screen time whenever they need to get a break... or use the washroom. I'm not judging anyone because I consider myself a mixture of the two. Xaryah gets roughly one hour screen time per day, except on the occasions when I need a break or need a few minutes to wash wares; then she may get more than that hour... and no I feel no guilt for that. Plus, I can't debar her from screen time completely, especially when Leroy and I have phones, an iPad, laptops and a flat screen in the living room... even our car has a screen!
After reading countless articles on it and slightly obsessing (I'm a first-time mom so of course I obsessed a bit), it's basically being said that Cocomelon is too stimulating for children based on how quickly the scenes change in each episode - apparently it changes every 1-3 seconds which is too quickly for a child. Additionally, its extremely colourful nature and colourful captions along with the music, singing, laughing and sound effects can be too much for a child. It's so bad that they have even compared it to a drug stimulant. WHOA WHOA WHOA... WHAT?!
Now, here's my take on this. I understand that as years go by, the science revolving around early child development is constantly growing and evolving, and honestly, we're learning so much as a result. However (and I hate saying this because I sound like my father), we grew up on similar (if not worse) drug-like cartoons like that and we turned out fine! I mean guys... how many of us have watched Rolie Polie Olie or Teletubbies? Power Puff Girls? ... and then transitioned into watching stuff like Cow & Chicken? Ed, Edd n Eddy? Pinky and the Brain? Come on man! Sighhh...
Furthermore, we must remember that not every child will react to Cocomelon the same way... that doesn't even happen with my daughter in the same day. Sometimes the show will get Xary's full attention, other times, it's background music while she plays with her toys. Their reactions will vary according to how they feel, what they're doing and even the time of day.
Photo: Watching Cocomelon and fighting her afternoon nap.
I can't explain the swiftness of the screen changes but the majority of Cocomelon episodes are either nursery rhymes and stories that we ourselves grew up hearing, educational songs that help children learn to say their ABCs, count and learn the different colours, and other catchy music that helps us as parents with tasks such as getting our child to brush their teeth, eat their vegetables and clean up... I can't explain Baby Shark though... I still find that song a bit annoying. Ugh!
At the end of the day, as I always say, you are the best parent for your child and you know your child better than anyone. You would know what they prefer and when something is wrong. The key is monitoring your child... and of course, don't let the screen babysit your child for long periods of time. Most times when Xaryah is watching Cocomelon, both Leroy and I are right next to her singing, dancing and laughing along with her. Pay attention to your child and how they respond so that if they do get overstimulated, you can pick up on it early and intervene if necessary.
If they do get overstimulated, remember to:
Remain calm and be patient - Children can pick up on your emotions and mirror it so if you are upset, they will become upset as well.
Remove them from whatever is causing them distress - Take them to another room that's quiet or outdoors and engage them in a calming activity like looking at trees and animals, reading or meditating ("Let's go look for the parrots outside. Do you hear them?".
Validate their emotions - Acknowledge the fact that they are upset ("I know taking off Cocomelon makes you sad but we did say an hour and the timer is buzzing")
Teach them ways to cope and self soothe - "Let's take 5 deep breaths to help us calm down ok? One..."
I use this technique personally with Xaryah whether she's overstimulated or upset or wants to throw a tantrum and it has helped tremendously. Although there are occasions where she still throws a fit, it's never for long, which is always a big win in our home!
If you'd like to read the initial Cocomelon article, you can read it HERE and let me know your thoughts!