Frozen, Ratatouille, Despicable Me, Finding Nemo. Children watch the same movie over and over again without getting tired and without hardly even blinking. For them any time is a good time to ask for it and watch it, hypnotized, and ecstatic with pure pleasure and fun. Their tired parents often accompany them, wondering what is behind this disconcerting obsession.
Only a few months ago, people were amazed at an item on the news. A Netflix user had watched the same movie 357 times over the course of a year. Everybody was desperate to know two things: what film it was and who the person was. Finally, this well-known audiovisual platform contacted the user to get to know him and to be able to publish his story.
A child may watch a film he loves more than a hundred times. However, no matter how many times he watches it, his level of attention is the same as the first time.Share
The film in question
The film in question was none other than the Bee Movie. It’s a fun animated film where a bee, recently graduated from university, leaves her hive to start a beautiful friendship with a human, a florist. The user who watched this film almost daily was Jaxson, a baby of just over one year of age!
As the mother explained, the boy was only a couple of months old when he became fascinated with the images of this DreamWorks movie. So much so that since then not a day goes by without her putting the film on for him. According to her, while the film is on, Jaxson is more relaxed and attentive than ever. She is aware that her son hardly understands anything, but, seeing the satisfaction it gives him, she doesn’t hesitate to give him these moments of delight and entertainment on a daily basis.
Children watch the same movie again and again because their brains need it
No doubt this story of the Netflix user and her son has surprised you. Above all because of the age of the viewer. We all know that children these days have very early contact with the audiovisual world. Moving images, color, music and voices are very attractive stimuli for young children’s brains. However, when children watch the same movie over and over again, it is more than a mere sensory attraction.
Let’s look back for a moment at our own childhood. We also had our favorite movie, and in those days, even more so, our favorite story. One that we always wanted to read or that we expected our mother or father to read to us every night. We also loved our grandparents telling us the same story or anecdote every time we went to visit them. We were attracted to the familiar, and the predictable.
Repetition as a means of learning
The infant brain learns and consolidates information through repetition. Therefore, it is not unusual that children see the same movie over and over again. In the same way that they ask us to sing the same song or read the same books to them. Studies like the one published in 2011 at the University of Sussex, Brighton, UK, show us that young people assimilate these stories as a pattern. They are chains of meaning that they are able to decipher better and better.
When they attain this, they improve their language, discover new words, understand arguments better, get more and more details from the film, thus gaining greater personal satisfaction.
Repetition confers comfort and security
Children need habits, guidelines, and routines. In this way they are able to organize their world better and discover more and more in it. With this type of constant schedule, they also attain a sense of security. Therefore, it should not surprise us when children watch the same movie over and over again, because they experience so much pleasure and well-being from it.
Knowing what is going to happen at each point in the film allows them to validate their expectations, and reinforces and relaxes them. There are no unforeseen events they have to quickly process. There is no contradictory information to catch them by surprise. Having before them a film, story or book that they know so well helps them to obtain a pleasant and above all “controllable” security and safety.
It improves logical thinking
Logical thinking refers to the relationships we make between two or more objects. It implies making comparisons, gaining information, comparing and obtaining a series of conclusions. This important cognitive process that Piaget talked about is key to a child’s intellectual development.
In this way, being able to have something like a film with a specific story, will allow them to find those same relationships. It will help them to find cause and effect relationships, and links between different factors, stimuli, micro-stories, gestures, and words.
To conclude, even though these repetitive experiences exhaust and exasperate us as parents, our little ones need them.
When children watch the same movie over and over again, they mature. They not only enjoy it, but they also grow. They feel competent when making predictions, they delight in these familiar stimuli. Let us enjoy their favorite films with them, as they grow up and go through their different stages in life. Each stage is a new experience for them as they get to know more and more about the world around them.