Watching films helps kids learn: Study

Written by Agencies | Melbourne | Updated: Jan 31 2009, 19:56pm hrs
Worried you child is spending too much time in front of television Well, watching films not only has educational benefits, but it helps their minds to get more exercise than perhaps originally thought.

A new study by Massey's School of Educational Studies in Australia has revealed that repeatedly watching favourite films actually helps children learn.

"When children engage with films they know lots of detail about the dialogues, the characters and they are immersed in the action. They have a very good depth of knowledge of the stories, so that too shows valuable learning.

"Kids identify with Harry (Potter). He is not a superhero and like us, he's not top of the class or the best at ordinary things but he has these unusual talents we would like to have," lead researcher Dr Brian Finch said.

In their study, Dr Finch and colleagues used the second film in the popular Harry Potter series, 'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets', to focus on children's behaviour and depth of understanding when viewing a film repeatedly.

A school-based survey of favourite films produced 17 children who nominated the film as a favourite that they had already viewed at least ten times.

Pairs of children were videoed while re-watching the 90-minute film in one child's home. Viewing practices varied, with some pairs talking and gesturing to the screen and each other and other pairs moving and saying little throughout.

"Gestures were not only at the literal level of mimicking characters' onscreen actions but also at the personalised engagement level where they physically elaborated on characters' emotional states which were not being overtly expressed onscreen.

"Discussions about characters included symbolism and understandings that unsympathetic characters helped generate dramatic tension," Dr Finch said.