The Benefits of Equipping Students with Cameras

November 30, 2009 at 9:29 am Leave a comment

Research from Videomaker magazine reveals that in today’s world, dominated by high-tech gizmos, viral videos, blogging and video games, some people may not realize the impact filmmaking can have on kids. The video camera is not just for adults anymore. It may be surprising to find out that shooting video can be an exciting — as well as educational — experience for teens and tweens.

Media Literacy
Kids, even at the youngest age, are tech savvy. With all that is available on the TV and Internet, fantasy can seem like reality. By using video cameras in play and in school, parents and educators can teach children the truth about what they really see on the screen.

Experimenting with video cameras can teach a child that what he or she sees isn’t always real. Dr. John Bisaga said that children four and five years old can’t sort out whether things they see in games or on screen are real or not. Yet, according to Bisaga, kids who create or star in their own video dramas can learn to sort out the difference between real life and make believe.

When children reach their teens, the use of video cameras can help them understand media. Dr. Craig Corp, a pediatrician, suggested that by allowing kids to make up commercials, parents and educators can point out how easy it is for advertisers to make products look better than they really are in reality. Student develop a keen eye when it comes to persuasion techniques.

Developing The Imagination
With a video camera, children can let their imaginations go and make their creations come to life. Kids around the ages of three to five have very active imaginations, and as a child’s imagination develops, so does his or her social skills, learning abilities and well being.

Increased Confidence
Teens love to see themselves on camera, whether it’s acting in a mini-play, singing, dancing or otherwise hamming it up. They gain more than just entertainment from watching themselves perform; they also gain self-confidence. According to Dr. Bisaga, “When a child discovers an area they do well in, they gain self-esteem.” Dr. Bisaga added that kids of all ages can become comfortable on camera or in front of others by seeing themselves on tape.

Improved Communication
Barbara Kemper is a 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. 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,” she said. “They noticed some of the reports were easier to understand than others. They also learned the importance of voice level and speaking slowly and clearly when giving a speech.”

Responsibility
By showing kids how to operate the camcorder and teaching them how to care for it, you can help them 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.

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 rules are broken, that privilege is revocable. In that case, kids 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,” Dr. Bisaga said, who suggested that when thinking of an extracurricular activity in which to expose kids, consider letting them try video production. This can provide a way for them to explore their creative side. They may learn that they have a real eye for photography or a knack for public speaking. No matter what the case, kids can explore their talents through the lens.

“Different kids have different learning styles,” Bisaga said. “For visually oriented children, video could provide an opportunity to explore a visual channel of communication.”

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.

Jaclyn Bell
Director of Community Content for OneSeventeen Media, Inc.
Competition Director for Young Minds Digital Times

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