Hey guys!! Many, many thanks to George Schalter for contributing this guest post. I hope you all enjoy it!
Two movies that our kids have really enjoyed in their young lives are the How To Train Your Dragon movies. Once they saw it, our older one had to read the Cressida Cowell books, while our younger one traced out pictures of dragons. Their favorite party was one where the cake was shaped like Toothless. They even persuaded their grandmother to play dragon games with them. That was the clincher for us – kids are influenced by movies!
The Visual Medium’s Impact
In the UK, there is a ban on junk food ads during children’s TV programs (though they are exposed to these visually attractive and many times funny ads, during the hours they watch TV with their families). In this article one boy is quoted – he actually said he could ‘lick the screen’ after watching an ad for junk food!
The visual medium has an impact. It’s a well-researched fact that age-appropriate and well-designed visual content, can have a positive impact on kids over two. For younger children there is nothing better than actual play and real life, for good cognitive development. Even among older children, it’s always smart parenting to watch content together and talk about it, instead of just letting the kids watch what they want. Before selecting games, parents can Common Sense Media reviews to decide on appropriateness. Brains in children are young and plastic, leaving them open to influence. It would be sad day indeed when kids start believing that the world they see on a screen is the real world around, and totally miss out on the real world we live in.
The Importance of Depicting Strong Characters and Relationships
Movies and virtual games dominate the content devoured by children. The advertising for movies starts from before the movie is even released. When kids are bombarded from all around by a movie and its characters, it makes sense to say that kids are affected by these characters. Children’s behavior is deeply affected by the movies. If kids see a lot of violence towards women, kids, animals or any other character, there is a good chance of their extrapolating that real life would be similar, especially if they come from troubled backgrounds with nothing contradicting reel life. On the other hand if kids see strong female and male leads who are egalitarian and fair in their relationships with others, their belief systems will include the very same values.
3 Movies and their Impact
This is a terrific movie which helps kids realize the amount of e-waste we generate. With devices proliferating, the problems of e-waste are taking on gargantuan proportions. Few adults and fewer kids realize the amount of e-waste we generate. Shot through the eyes of a cleaning robot, it shows how lonely loneliness can be and how thrilling love can be. It’s but natural to love the character of Wall-e and root for him as he chases his chance at happiness.
We all loved this movie. It’s a visual delight and throughout the movie we wanted the underdog hero to triumph. The odds weighed heavily against him, but his perseverance pays off in the end. The kids made themselves chef’s hats and we found them frequently in the kitchen stirring pots and offering help. This movie helps kids understand the phrase ‘chasing dreams’ despite difficulties.
- The Lion King
This is a classic thanks to some marvelous storytelling. Parts of it were a little scary for our younger one when he watched it for the first time, but our kids love this movie. In fact we have watched it more than once. It’s a great movie to help kids understand responsibility and to face up to fears.
Yes, movies have an impact. Should we stop kids from watching movies? Not at all. Things we as parents must emphasize:
- Movies are not entirely real
- Movies are just another form of entertainment
- The same story can be told by different people in different ways emphasizing different aspects of the story. Talk about the characters and their viewpoints.
- Talk about cause and effect of actions observed in some movies.
- Talk about how things might be different in our world.
It always helps to read a fellow parent’s take on movies and how it has impacted their kids. It might help parents see beyond the entertainment element in the movies they watch. We don’t go to parenting schools, so it’s always a help to read what a fellow parent has to say!
George Schalter loves being a dad. He and his wife share the joys and responsibilities of bringing up their two children. As believers of good all round education, they spend a lot of time playing with their children and spending time outdoors. As George is the writer in the family, he blogs at Educational Kids Games.