OK, we have to admit that Elmo is pretty darn cute, but after about 20 minutes of "Sesame Street," the little critter's voice can annoy even the most patient parent. But hey, at least he's not as irritating as "Caillou," right? (Apologies to parents who love him.)
But regardless of Elmo's high-pitched voice, toddlers can't seem to get enough of the furball — and there's a perfectly logical (and scientific) explanation why.
Turns out, Elmo's fiery appearance is a big factor since red is actually the first colour babies can see, Café Mom notes. An infant's colour vision develops over their first few months of life, and by four months old, they can differentiate colours.
"Young children only really detect bold, primary colours; they probably discern reds and greens best, followed by blues and yellows," Prof. Lise Eliot, of the Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & Science, explained to Parents.com.
So that's why your toddler can't seem to look away every time Elmo pops up on their screen! But there's also another scientific reason your tiny tot loves the red monster: he sounds and acts like them.
"He speaks like a child does, and asks questions that a child might ask," licensed clinical social worker Kaleigh Boysen told Café Mom. "His questions and attempts to understand mimic a young child's thought process. His voice is also higher pitched, making him sound more childlike and easier for small children to hear."
Elmo also speaks to children, not at them. This creates a strong connection to young viewers because it makes them feel like they're friends with the character and are getting someone's full attention, which we all know is something they crave.
In addition to "Sesame Street," the ever-popular "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" and "Mr. Dressup" also found great success doing the exact same thing.
To top it all off, tots are also drawn to Elmo's positive personality. As Seattle-based family therapist Shanna Donhauser noted to Café Mom, "Children are usually drawn to these characters because they reflect the positive feelings they know personally and the characteristics (like kindness) they appreciate."
"Sesame Street" is known for regularly conducting research on how their show affects children, so it's no surprise that Elmo was strategically made to be red, and have a high-pitched voice and bright personality to attract young kids and relate to them.
So the next time you get annoyed at Elmo, you can at least rest assured your kids are in good hands.
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