The holiday season is often filled with family traditions that are passed on from generation to generation, year after year. From special foods, activities and decorations, to visiting with family and friends, this is the time of the year when we celebrate traditions and look to share them with our children and the ones we love.
Many of these traditions include media, whether listening to a favorite holiday album, browsing online catalogues for gift ideas, or watching televised specials, media can be a wonderful addition to your holiday traditions. Each year brings new holiday films, and many of us remember movies from our own childhoods that we look forward to watching and sharing with the children in our lives. To help you and your family maximize the enjoyment that movies can bring, here are several tips for helping you choose holiday movies 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 scary or inappropriate scene, if you haven’t watched the movie yourself or are not sure if a movie’s storyline or message is appropriate, ask trusted friends who have seen the movie for their opinions. Also check out review sources such as Common Sense Media and Movie Review Intelligence. 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, use the pause or fast-forward buttons as needed (for questions, conversation, or to skip scary parts), and talk about what you watched. Hopefully, you will find a film that you and your loved ones can enjoy as a holiday tradition year after year.