Movies and Your Child

Movies are one of the major influencers of the youth today. Instead of devising ways to restrict your child’s movie viewing, find ways to help your child get inspired and learn about different topics through their favourite movies here…

Movies and Your Child

Parents often despair that watching movies and television takes away from more important activities such as reading, school work, playing, family time, and social development. They worry that movies adversely affect children, and that movies glorify violence, abusive language and villainous behaviours. They view movies as a form of entertainment, and little else. However, movies can also be a great source of knowledge and inspiration.

Watching movies can be a fun activity that helps children and adolescents use their imagination and curiosity to know more about different subjects. If your child enjoys watching movies, do not keep him away from them. Instead, make movie watching a family affair! Take him to the video library and help him pick out a movie that he will not only enjoy but also learn a lot from.

What types of movies should my child watch and Why? 

1)    Documentary Films

Movies need not be in documentary format to improve your child’s knowledge. 

More often than not, children perceive documentaries as dull and can see right through the ploy to educate them via documentary films. Whether you approve or not, your child is definitely going to watch a multitude of movies in his life. 

Instead of forcing your child to watch movies that you approve of, it is more prudent to teach your child to question and glean knowledge from the movies that he enjoys watching. Curiosity on a certain subject touched upon in the movie should be enough to want your child to know more about it in the form of books, the internet or even documentaries. 

2)    Movies based on True Stories 

A movie does not have to be based on a true story for it to be informative. 

Often, even movies that are fictional, but based on a certain era or around a particular natural phenomenon, can increase your child's knowledge about a certain subject. So if your child is studying weather or storms, watching a movie like Twister, which is based on tornadoes; it can increase your child's knowledge and interest in the subject. You can also discuss allied topics after watching the movie together, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis and so on. 

Similarly, war movies are often based on wars that did really take place, so the discussion following a not-very-gruesome war movie can turn into a history lesson. Talk about what caused the war, who won the war in the end, what were the effects, and so on. If done correctly, your child may actually take out his history textbook to check on some facts during your discussion!

3)    Comedy, Romance and Family Movies

Just because movies of these genres are normally considered as pure entertainment and do not provide knowledge that your child can use outright, does not mean that they are absolutely useless and should be avoided. These genres of movies help your child learn about social behaviour and interactions. 

It will help your child fit in and understand human mindsets. These kinds of movies expose your child to different people that he may not get to meet in his day-to-day life. It will enable him to understand different kinds of people, their ways, their lives, etc. However, do read up on the suitability of the movie for children before letting your child watch the movie!

4)    Crime and Suspense Thrillers

One child’s laugh riot is another child’s worst nightmare. Ascertain that your child is old enough to enjoy this genre of movies before letting him watch them. 

Your child should be capable of enjoying the suspense instead of imagining it happening to himself or his family. These movies educate your child that bad people and things do happen in this world and they need to accept that. If watched in the right spirit, these movies sharpen your child’s mind and intellect. 

Discuss what is happening during dull parts of the movie to help your child grasp the nuances of finding clues that lead to the final answer which is the end of these movies. These movies will help ensure that your child is not easily outwitted by his peers and can actually help him pick up his peers’ non-verbal cues and behaviours to decode what they actually mean.

5)    Action Movies

Action movies are the coolest movies for most boys and girls. Watching action movies will motivate your child to be fit and active. It will make them wish to learn self-defence and think of ways to protect their friends and families. It will teach your child that it is never alright to just accept wrongs, but rather, one must fight to ensure that wrongs are righted. Parents need to ensure that action sequences are watched with the right mindset. Children need to be made aware that the stunts that the action heroes and villains are carrying out are done in safe environments and with a lot of safety harnesses and ropes. Log onto YouTube or other video sharing sites to show your child how stunts are actually carried out to make them understand that they are not really as glamorous as they seem.

6)    Fantasy and Animated Movies 

These movies fire up your child’s imagination. Do not be surprised if they start to knock on the backs of their closets to see if a magical door opens up. We read them fairy tales so why not fantasy movies? This is an important part of their childhood. Encourage their imagination but do not let them cross into the dark side where everything is magical and secretive. Every child has an imaginary friend and these types of movies help shape the character of their imaginary friends and in turn, their own. After all where would most inventors be if they had not cultivated a vivid imagination?

7)    Horror and Science Fiction

While science fiction helps cultivate an intellectual imagination and makes your child question rather than just accept everything around him, hold off on these types of movies until your child is a teenager or at least mature enough to understand these movies and is able to look up at them as just entertainment and nothing more.

Discuss and Dissect Movies Together

Just showing your child a particular movie will not be very helpful if you do not discuss the topic a little after the movie. If you do not have a lot of background information about the particular topic, read up a little about it on the Internet, before turning on the movie. Ask your child how he felt about the movie, its conclusion, its plot; ask if he did not understand anything, or if he would like to find out more about the topic. Help your child look up information regarding the topic on the internet and also get him a book regarding the topic that fascinates him. You will find that you will not only know a lot more about the subject, but you will also understand and enjoy the movie much more - and, more importantly, so will your child! During the movie itself you should make remarks about how a particular aspect is so interesting, or unbelievable. This will encourage your child to start thinking for himself and making observations on his own. After all, you do not want your child to start thinking that life is just like a movie.