Are you even a parent if you don’t hum “Today is the day, it’s the first day of school” as you get your li’l one ready for preschool?!
If you sang the song while reading the above lines, you are not alone! Cocomelon’s nursery rhymes have taken the world by storm and infants and toddlers across the globe have grown up watching the never-ending collections of their videos. But how did this become such a big global phenomenon? And are we forgetting some concerns while JJ engages our li’l ones in ways we couldn’t?
A Small Rewind
In what started in 2005 by an animation artist Jay Jeon who is a father of two, as a series of educational videos for older children under the name ABC TV, underwent a transformation in 2017 and rebranded itself as Cocomelon. From being a 2D animation channel, Cocomelon set foot into the 3D animation world, revolving around the life of li’l JJ.
Within a year by 2028 December, Cocomelon was reportedly getting 2 billion views a month! And it has only seen a spike ever since, especially after media giant Moonbug acquired the company and has ensured the videos are translated into more than 10 languages across the world.
It was streamed for more than 37.8 billion minutes in 2022, according to Nielsen, ranking it among the top 10 streaming shows list every week in 2022USA Today
What Made Cocomelon Stand Out?
Amidst a series of other global video channels, that made it big and eventually died down over a period of time, what made Cocomelon stand out among its peers?
- Each episode was less than 3-4 minutes which makes it small consumable content.
- They didn’t reinvent the wheel. They started off with existing popular rhymes but gave them a new spin with the treatment.
- Familiarizing the characters repeatedly made them household names. Babies today call their brothers Tom Tom and sisters Yo Yo! Such has been Cocomelon’s impact.
- With time, they made the changes. They introduced characters of colour to give it an inclusivity spin and brought in audiences from across the globe.
- The biggest win was combining these small nuggets of videos into 30 and 60-minute videos that gave parents some breather time. Toddlers would watch it without batting an eyelid giving the parents some time for themselves.
- The sharp colours and animations that made the characters seem alive on screen were what made them so popular and later earned the wrath of experts too. More on that shortly.
- The focus on all episodes was simple. Love for kids, love for parents, love for friends and the image of happy families and friends made it acceptable to parents even when they weren’t co-consuming with their children.
- Constant updation of their playlist with new videos. And they timed it right with festivals, with global events like the pandemic etc, keeping a pulse on what’s trending.
As a work-from-home-mom there are moments, I would like to grab in the day to finish my tasks. be it that quick team call or a client’s email or finish writing this article! And if shows like these that have safe content can keep my kids engaged, it is going to be a yes from moms like me.
But then over the past couple of years, there have been reports of the show being “unsuitable” for kids because of its fast-moving images and excess use of contrasting colours and images. Concerned, I decided to read more about this.
Why Parents & Experts Are On the Fence About It
Amidst the insane popularity the show has managed to garner over the years, there is an uproar among the parenting community and among experts citing that the show isn’t really fit for long hours of consumption by little kids. Here are the reasons why:
Educational? Not Really
While it is believed to model the right behaviour and promote educational content as claimed by the makers, the content isn’t high quality say the experts. Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute has told in an article for Time magazine:
“It’s one of those shows that is designed for parents to think they’re educational,” Christakis says, “but it doesn’t strike me as being high-quality at all.”
Delay In Speech?
A Tik-Tok video by a mom Sierra Renae caused an uproar when she claimed that watching the show could cause speech delays as was evident in her child and how he became addicted to the show. The comments to her post came pouring in from fellow parents who reported similar instances with their kids too.
“I knew it was affecting him because he would be in a daze while watching it,” she told Newsweek. “You could be waving your hand right in front of his face and he wouldn’t move. It was almost scary.”Sierra Renae, mom, in an interview to Newsweek
The ideal time for images to shift and change in a child’s show is accepted to be around 7-8 seconds, the more the better. In contrast, in Cocomelon, the image changes happen every 3-4 seconds, it was observed that caused worries about the show being “hyper-stimulating” for little children. According to a report in Newsweek, Roseann Capanna-Hodge is an integrative and pediatric mental health expert and the founder of the Global Institute of Children’s Mental Health,
“They can produce a dopamine release in the brain, similar to drugs. This can lead to boredom and poor behavioral and emotional regulation.”Roseann Capanna-Hodge
What do parents today think about the claims against Cocomelon? We asked recently on our Instagram page.
What To Do Instead
The attack on the shows being hyperstimulatory and addictive is not restricted to Cocomelon alone. With the massive viewership of Cocomelon comes the brickbats. But whatever the show your kids are watching how to help them come out of it without being “addicted” to it.
- As much as possible, treat TV time as a co-consuming habit. Given the pressures of modern-day parenting, it is indeed tough to sit with the kids when they watch it, instead of attending to the pending list of to-dos, agreed, But where ever possible co-consume with your kids, make them sing along, talk about it etc, so they aren’t just ideally watching the show without any interaction.
- Set screen time limits. Instead of hard and fast rules, come up with a rule that suits your family. Choose a time slot and mention to your children, however li’l they might me, that the TV goes off when the time is up. When you start this from a young age, they will understand it better as they grow up.
- Expect some tantrums and crying when you switch off the TV. It is common, but keep your backup distracting strategies ready. Take them out for a walk. Read a book with them. Involve them in some fun chores, or play a silly dancing game with them to take their mind off the show for a while. When you give into the tantrums, they will know that a few drops of tears will result in longer TV times.
- For slightly older toddlers who can communicate their feelings, talk to them about why you turned it off, and how you are concerned about their eyesight etc. Toddlers enjoy and respect it more when you have short conversations WITH them, rather TO them.
Go ahead and make the right call for your child, parents. A li’l TV time doesn’t hurt but make sure you are aware of what shows your kids are watching, and ensures it entertains and engages them more than causing any harm to them.