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Effects of TV on Children

Peter PanDisney Videos - Developing the imagination of our youngest generation

During the ages of three to six years, children learn and acquire important social skills and values which will shape the person they become. Television and videos are a part of many children's lives and we know that early childhood television viewing experiences have long term implications for children's development.

To fully understand the impact of video viewing on young children in Australia, Disney commissioned a 'world first' independent study of the television and video viewing habits of children aged between three and six years.

The study, called Our Children's Media Diet: 'A Mother's Perspective', was led by Dr Helen Skouteris, an expert in Developmental Psychology from LaTrobe University's School of Psychological Science.

The study found that Disney videos encourage children to be 'active viewers', frequently incorporating events and characters into their 'pretend play'. Pretend play is one of the most essential activities during childhood. Through pretend play, children develop language skills, imagination, creativity and the ability to take another's perspective.

Dr Skouteris says that videos such as Winnie The Pooh titles, Pinocchio, Peter Pan and Mary Poppins are very popular with young children and provide them with a fun and magical experience. "Films such as these are easy for children to interpret, are entertaining, and most importantly, encourage behaviours such as pretend play, singing and character role play," says Dr Skouteris.

Peter PanDisney videos promote positive social messages by showing children the importance of honesty, trust, loyalty, fairness and friendship. Dr Skouteris found that when watching Disney films, the majority of children recognise the difference between good and evil and value certain characteristics such as bravery and a sense of humour.

Repeated viewing of animated Disney videos (five or more times) was also found to be an extremely common and positive experience. Repeat viewing is associated with greater enjoyment, greater appreciation and understanding of the storyline and children wanting to partake in more frequent pretend play.

PinocchioDr Skouteris maintains that co-viewing (parents watching the videos with their children) and repeat viewing of videos facilitate children's understanding of the storyline. With a greater level of understanding, children are more likely to pretend to be characters, recite lines, and sing songs from the video, all of which make watching a video an active rather than passive experience. Co-viewing has the added benefit of providing close family time where parents can make a point of discussing the various themes presented in the videos and answering any questions children might have.

To further understand the impact of Disney videos on early childhood development, Disney has commissioned a phase two study to be conducted by Dr Skouteris, the results of which will be available in mid 2003.

Disney is committed to bringing its special type of magic to Australia's youngest generation. The Walt Disney Collection titles are the epitome of healthy viewing and will bring entertainment and delight to both young and old alike.


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