It’s that time of year once again when school vacations and holidays bring many friends and family together. It can also be a great time to continue or start a tradition of cozying up on the couch, or going out as a group to watch a movie. This year, theaters are offering movie versions of popular comic book, children’s and young adult stories such as Big Hero 6, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. Additionally, many TV stations and streaming services such as Hulu Plus are rolling out their own holiday specials and classic reruns. If you and your family choose to take in a movie this year, here are several tips that can help you choose what to watch wisely:
- Choose the movie based on the age of the youngest child in the group. This will help ensure that the content will be appropriate for everyone watching, and not just for the older children and adults.
- Consider each child individually. In addition to accounting for each child’s age, pay attention to who they are and where they are developmentally, as well as their personality. Choosing a movie with individual temperaments in mind will help everyone avoid feeling confused, anxious, fearful, or even bored during the movie.
- Start smart family media traditions early. Start smart family traditions while kids are young. Getting teens to enjoy time-honored holiday movies rather than the latest blockbuster “that everybody else is watching” has a better chance of succeeding if you start the tradition at a young age. Your enthusiasm and presence can have more influence than hundreds of commercials and marketing ploys.
- Research the movie before you share. Even if a holiday movie seems light-hearted and fun, it might contain a scene that is scary or inappropriate for your child. If you haven’t watched the movie yourself or are not sure if a movie’s message will work for your child, ask trusted friends who have seen the movie for their opinions. Also check out review sources such as Common Sense Media and kids-in-mind. Remember that a movie’s MPAA rating is not based on what is developmentally appropriate for children, so be sure to use additional sources before you make your decision.
Remember to watch the movie together as a family or group and, if at home, remember that you can pause or fast-forward if needed (to make room for questions and conversation, or to skip scary parts). Hopefully, you will find a film that you and your loved ones can enjoy as a holiday tradition year after year.