Camcorders aren’t just for adults; they’re for kids as well. Experts say there are many benefits that kids can receive from the process of making video. You may be surprised to find out that shooting video can be an educational experience for the child, as well as exciting. The next time you bring the camcorder to a big family function, why not let the little one try it, and see what he or she does with it? You may be surprised at the results.
Benefit #1: Media Literacy
Kids these days are growing up in the generation of television and video games. At times, fantasy may seem like reality to them. By using video cameras in play, parents can teach children the truth about what they see on television.
Experimenting with video cameras can teach a child that what he or she sees on TV isn’t always real. Dr. John Bisaga, a child psychologist, says children four and five years old can’t sort out whether things they see on TV are real or not. According to Dr. Bisaga, kids who create or star in their own video dramas can learn to sort out the difference between real-life and make-believe on television.
When children get older, the use of video cameras can help them understand television even more. Dr. Craig Corp, a pediatrician, suggests that by letting kids make up their own commercials, parents can point out how easy it is for advertisers to make products look better than they really are.
Benefit #2: Developing the Imagination
With a video camera, children can "let their imaginations go," according to Dr. Corp. Kids around the ages of three, four and five ordinarily have very active imaginations. By play-acting for the camera, Dr. Corp suggests that children can enhance their creativity even further. Giving children exposure to communicative tools like video cameras will allow the same children the freedom of experimenting with their own imaginative growth.
As a child’s imagination develops, so does his or her social skills, learning abilities and overall sense of well-being.
Benefit #3: Increased Confidence
Children love to see themselves on camera, whether it’s acting in a videotaped mini-play, singing, dancing or otherwise hamming it up. Children gain more than just entertainment from watching themselves perform on television; they also gain self-confidence. According to Dr. Bisaga, "When a child discovers an area he does well in, he gains self-esteem." Dr. Bisaga adds that kids of all ages can become comfortable on camera or in front of others by seeing themselves on tape.
Dr. Corp suggests that parents and family members watch videos shot by their kids, and then encourage the kids that videography can be a fun way to learn. Dr. Corp says it can give them lots of positive feedback and reinforcement that may guide them in the areas of public speaking, dancing, acting, music or other performing arts.
Dr. Corp says that kids who enjoy performing are many times natural hams and that allowing them to videotape themselves can encourage them to do what they like to do best.
Benefit #4: Improved Communication
Barbara Kemper is an elementary school teacher who uses camcorders in her classroom to teach students presentation skills. In one case, students focused on the subject of weather. The teacher asked each student to research the topic, then pretend to be a weathercaster on the news and present the weather on a video. Mrs. Kemper then played the video in front of the class. "The exercise made a lot of them realize how important it is to speak clearly. They noticed some of the reports were easier to understand than others," said Mrs. Kemper. "They also learned the importance of voice level and speaking slowly and clearly when giving a speech."
Benefit #5: Responsibility
Children love to act like grown-ups. Perhaps the toughest part of being a grown-up is accepting responsibility, and one sure way to teach them about being a grown-up is through responsibility. By giving kids rules to follow, experts say they can learn the importance of being responsible.
By showing the child how to operate the camcorder and teaching them how to care for it, you can help him develop confidence. Start with the basics, such as how to hold the camcorder, insert the tape, turn it on and off and start recording. They may need to charge a battery, clean the lens, attach a light or microphone or secure the whole thing on a tripod. Children should also know how to store the camcorder and put everything away in an orderly fashion.
By giving kids ground rules, you’ll teach them to enjoy caring for the equipment. It will become a privilege to use it. If the children break the rules, that privilege is revocable. In that case, children can learn what they did wrong and how it was irresponsible.
"Children have the opportunity to try everything from playing sports to learning a musical instrument when they are growing up," says Dr. Bisaga. The Doctor suggests that when you’re thinking of an extracurricular activity to expose your child to, consider letting them try out video production as well. This can provide a way for the child to explore his creative side. He may learn that he has a real eye for photography or a knack for public speaking. No matter what the case, kids can explore their individual talents through the lens. "Different kids have different learning styles," says Dr. Bisaga. "For visually oriented children, video could provide an opportunity to explore a visual channel of communication."
So, next time you break out your camcorder, you might consider letting the kids do the shooting. You never know how it might benefit them as they grow. Whatever the case, it will create memories through a child’s eye. Best of all, it will give the kids a new outlet for fun.