Jan 30, 2009

Lifestyle - Watching movies helps children exercise mind

SYDNEY: Parents need not overly worry about kids spending most of their time indoors. They could be watching their favourite movies and exercising
their minds.

This perception is borne out by a study conducted by Massey University School of Educational Studies, which suggests that repeatedly watching favourite films helps children learn.

Massey lecturer Brian Finch 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.

Finch said while it is encouraging that J.K. Rowling's fictional boy wizard series of books has made reading a valued activity by children, watching films also has educational benefits.

A school-based survey of favourite films produced 17 children who nominated the film as a favourite that they had already viewed at least 10 times.

"Kids identify with Harry. 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."

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, said a Massey release.

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

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