Can 'CoComelon' Cause Tantrums and Speech Delays?

There's been a lot of chatter about the dangers of 'CoComelon' and similar programming lately, but does it hold weight? Here's everything to know about the link between popular TV shows and your child's development.

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If you're the parent of a toddler, you probably know about CoComelon. The bright, colorful, sing-a-long show is a hit with the under 5 crowd. (My 3-year-old watched it—ad nauseam—for months.) But there's been a lot of chatter lately about the potential dangers of CoComelon. Some worry the show is too stimulating. Others fear that it will lead to tantrums and speech delays. But is there any truth to these concerns? Could CoComelon and similar programs negatively impact your child's development? Maybe, says Kassie Hanson, a pediatric speech-language pathologist and owner of Talk 2 Me Mama.

"The impact TV has on a child's development varies depending on the age of the child and what they are watching," Hanson says. "There is clear research that shows TV for children under 2 can have a negative impact on attention, cognition, and communication. Children under 2 need interaction with people, not screens. For children ages 2 and up, limited screen time can be OK and may even teach children some new concepts or ideas if the show is high quality and parents interact with children as they watch the show. "

Here's everything you need to know about CoComelon and how children's programming affects their development.

What Is CoComelon?

CoComelon is a popular YouTube channel turned Netflix show. The program features "educational songs and nursery rhymes for kids," according to the program's official website. It is designed to help "pre-schoolers learn letters, numbers, animal sounds, colors, and more," and it does so with colorful animation and characters, like JJ and his siblings.

When Did Concerns About CoComelon Begin?

Concerns about CoComelon have been swirling for some time now, with the most recent claim being linked to TikTok. According to a video posted by @sierrarenaeee, her 2-year-old is speech delayed and "addicted" to the program. After becoming worried, Sierra switched to a different YouTube channel and things changed. "He's already saying more words and hasn't had any tantrums," she said. And her revelation prompted other parents to come forward with their own views on CoComelon.

"CoComelon is so awful for children," one woman called Sarah wrote. "It's overstimulating—which can delay a lot of developmental milestones."

How Does TV Affect Children's Development?

While the current chatter seems to be centered around CoComelon, children's programming in general can affect your child's development. "Shows that are fast-paced with low-quality content can be especially harmful since they add little to no value and overstimulate your child's brain," Hanson says. "Children often react strongly to screen time and may tantrum when it is turned off. Low-quality shows may even promote poor behaviors, like talking back to parents or hitting other children," says Hanson.

What's more, a study by researchers at the University of Alberta found that children who spent at least two hours per day on the screen were five times more likely to exhibit symptoms of ADHD when compared to their peers who were on screens for 30 minutes or less. "If you choose to let your child watch television," Hanson adds, "it is important to pick high-quality shows." Some examples include Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood and Super Why!

Can TV Programs and CoComelon Cause Tantrums and Speech Delays?

Despite recent claims on TikTok—and (seemingly widespread) disapproval—there's no definitive proof showing that CoComelon causes behavioral and/or developmental issues. "Without empirical research on the show CoComelon, there is no data to substantiate claims that this show is overstimulating due to the pace of the scenes," Rebecca G. Cowan, Ph.D., LPC, NCC, BC-TMH, DCMHS, a professor in the college of social and behavioral sciences at Walden University, told Parents earlier this year. There is also no proof the show causes tantrums or speech delays.

TV as a whole, however, can be a contributor. "Studies have shown associations between excessive TV watching in early childhood and language, cognitive, and social-emotional delays," says Michael Bauer, M.D., FAAP, pediatrician and medical director at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital.

"If screen time replaces interactions with caregivers and peers, for example, then your child is more likely to have a speech delay," Hanson adds. "However, some parents have found that highly educational, interactive TV can be a starting point for helping their children learn new vocabulary if they are older than 2."

"Watching the shows with your child and sticking with high quality, educational programs such as Sesame Street and other PBS shows is the key to helping children understand what they are viewing and applying it to the world around them," says Dr. Bauer.

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