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  • CoComelon Acts Like A Drug? What We Need To Really Worry About

    We can hate on a show, but we shouldn’t strike fear or panic among parents.
    by Thumby Server-Veloso .
CoComelon Acts Like A Drug? What We Need To Really Worry About
PHOTO BY Instagram/cocomelon_official
  • Moms on Facebook including members of Smart Parenting Village have been embroiled in what is fast becoming a heated debate about the television show, CoComelon. If you have a child younger than 3 years old, chances are you’ve heard of it.

    CoComelon, which started out on Youtube and was picked up by Netflix, centers around a family with a 1-year-old son named JJ, and his brother and sister, who are around 4 or 5 years old. It’s about the life of a toddler, presented through songs, bright colors, constant camera movements, and characters with huge eyes.

    The songs model positive behavior, like eating vegetables, good manners, or being nice to animals. It’s definitely not a show made for older children or adults. But toddlers love it so much that it was one of the Top 10 shows on Netflix for the year 2020. There is even a December 2020 article in Forbes entitled, “100 Billion Views and Counting: ‘CoComelon’ Is Absolutely Dominating Netflix and Youtube.”

    CoComelon acts like a drug?

    So why is it getting a bad rap? There was a recent post going around on social media that says explicitly, “CoComelon is so hyper-stimulating that it actually acts as a drug, a stimulant.” The post described the effects of addiction.

    However, the author of the post failed to cite a specific study on CoComelon addiction to uphold this statement. Without any research or well-documented proof, her post is just an assertion, which we can all do. But we cannot pass off an assertion as a scientific fact.

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    Remember in the ’90s, there was a show called Teletubbies? Very young children couldn’t seem to get enough of it when all they did was talk gibberish and act like toddlers. I also remembered the hate some people spewed against the show Barney and Friends, a treasure trove of songs for preschool classrooms.

    We can hate on a show, but we shouldn’t strike fear or panic among parents.

    'Screen addiction' in the time of COVID 

    If you read parents’ comments around the CoComelon addiction post, you will find many of them reminding others that TV for young children should be used in moderation. I completely agree with this.

    While doctors recommend 0 to 1 hour screen time for young children, we know these screen use rules may not be feasible or easy to follow in today’s COVID-locked-down society.

    Parents need to attend to work commitments, household chores, or self-care — and sometimes (or many times), having your child watch his favorite show could be a lifesaver during these moments.

    In a 2019 article entitled, “Is Your Child ‘Addicted’ to Screens?” for Psychology Today, Eileen Kennedy-Moore, Ph.D., made a good point. She shared that we need to focus on the impacts of media use instead of deciding whether our media use was problematic or our children are addicted to screens.

    How to manage your child's screen use

    What kind of impact should we be worried about? For example, is your child’s viewing habit negatively affecting your child’s sleep, mood, activities, or family relationships?

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    Parents need watch out for signs like a delay in speech development, an increase in tantrums, or having difficulty sleeping. Maybe this is the wake-up call that means our kids need help manage their screen use.

    Whether it’s CoComelon or another children’s show, just remember:

    Set a time limit

    CoComelon episodes can run for an hour. This is way too long for a toddler. Fifteen minutes should be enough.

    Be involved

    If your child picks up good manners, words, or songs from any show, extend the learning. Sing along with your child, use the new words in context while playing, or point out real-life situations that mirror events in their favorite show.

    Watch and talk

    If you can watch the show with your child, do so to spark a back-and-forth conversation or describe what’s going on. In CoComelon, the talking parts are few and far between. Young children need to hear conversations to participate successfully in them.

    Advocate playtime

    If your child will have screen time, make sure you have the same amount or double the amount of playtime in the same day with real toys and people, and engaging in exercise or movement activities.

    Be a good role model

    Remember, if your child sees you plopped behind a screen binge-watching your favorite shows for hours on end, they will think it’s okay for them to do it, too.

    We don’t have to block CoComelon or any children’s show. If your family doesn’t like it, just don’t watch it. But if your toddler is a big fan, help your child by setting boundaries, being involved, encouraging language development, making sure playtime is not neglected, and be a good role model.

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    Barbara Server-Veloso is known as Teacher Thumby in her preschool, Toddlers Unlimited, and Ms. Thumby in her grade school, Thinkers Unlimited, Alabang. She is also a partner in Spark Discovery Center in Jupiter Street, Makati, where she teaches the Baby and Me Class. Teacher Thumby has a Master’s degree from the University of the Philippines in Family Life and Child Development. She has been teaching since 1993. She is also the mother of Lucas and Verena.

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