Today is #WorldKindnessDay and Screen One got the chance to speak to Dr Sam Wass, who is an esteemed Child Psychologist. We are here talking about World Kindness Day and in particular what it means to Children and how TV and Film such as My Little Pony: Pony Life can influence what they think kindness is and how it relates to them especially during these strange times and #WorldKindnessDay. My Little Pony: Pony Life is on Tiny Pop.
Thank you for joining us Dr Sam, What do you think is easiest way to communicate about kindness and it’s importance to a child’s development?
It’s about discovering what friendship is, friendships are about support, emotionally being there for each other, being there when were up and down etc. A lot of it is about understanding others. So the changes in children between the ages of 4,5, & 6 is massive. Going to school spending time with others sparks massive development on how to make friends and develop friendship
And how can parents get actively involved, what way can these shows such as My Little Pony: Pony Life really help develop kindness?
Shows like MLP are appealing to children, and we also think a big part of their learning, because a lot of children’s early learning about disputes is a real pure attributes, as adults were all like quite good at something some are good at this, others are good at that, and you are relatively good at something. But the way children learn about these attributes is in pure form, which is why they are so interested in superheroes, because a superhero is infinitely strong or infinitely powerful and they learn what strength is from someone who is infinitely powerful and they learn that my parents aren’t infinitely powerful but they are powerful up to a certain degree, so they learn black and white, then learn shades of grey.
So what’s so lovely about My Little Pony: Pony Life series is that they are the superheroes of kindness, it’s all about this attribute of friendship, it’s all centred around this theme of kindness, friendship and supporting one another, so its a really powerful way for children to learn what these abstract concepts are as the whole show is focused on this theme.
What parents can be doing and they shouldn’t be scared of this, be aware its part of your learning is they can integrate them into this type is to sit and watch with your child and to sit and talk with them afterwards about what they just watched. This can really help with bridging between the fantasy world and the real world. Their might be in one of the episodes, one of the characters who doesn’t tell the truth and their friends come in and help them to realise that it would be better to tell the truth than lie in this situation.
One of the things parents can do and research shows this is a really beneficial thing is to talk to child afterwards to make these bridges between the make believe world and the real world, such as saying “Doesn’t that relate to that particular episode for your life when you didn’t tell the truth?” those sorts of things.
And what about length of time children watch in front of screens? Do you think think there is an ideal amount of time? Is there a danger they can become babysitting devices?
Its a very complex discussion but children tolerance of it goes up as they get older, you definitely get practiced at watching tv, young children won’t spend too long doing it.
But more than a hard recommendation on the amount of time, the more time you spending watching the less time you spend doing other things so it needs to be balanced, so it’s important to be doing a variety of different things. You do some of your learning from TV but shouldn’t do ALL of your learning from TV, so make sure you do a healthy variety of things.
There is a lot of evidence that watching TV with your child is a good thing and a big part of their learning. It’s a great way of stimulating their language as parents can find it hard to find things to communicate with their child as they can be quite uncommunicative at times, such as ‘what did you do at school today’ whereas if you get them talking about interests like a TV show it’s a really good way of sparking conversation.
Don’t just use it as a babysitter, we all have of course while were cooking or clearing up and thats OK but also the more time you can spend watching TV with your children is a good thing
Thirdly there is quite a lot of evidence about TV shortly before bedtime does affect the quality of their sleep so do try to have at least one or preferably two hours clear TV time before bed.
So apart from My Little Pony: Pony Time, what would be your goto movie for kindness?
I recently saw Cars (Disney/Pixar) and particularly Cars 2 it got me quite emotional laughs I’m embarrassed now, but it’s a really good film!
Finally any final messages you would like to talk about to help parents and children alike today on World Kindness day?
I think therein message is kindness is something thats learnt, its not something thats built into us, so theres a lot of evidence that children learn through watching screen interactions, such as My Little Pony: Pony Life. But also through family interactions. Children aren’t born figuring out what other people feel, they have to learn what emotions are in other people, so this is something comes automatically, we have to work at it, so if we work at it we can figure out what things I do or say that’ll make people feel good and whats going to make them feel bad. but it’s one of the most important thing we can work towards but it’s not something thats in the any curriculum. Not any of the school curriculums cover this and i think that, that is a real scandal, it should be really far up there in the things we teach at school.
My Little Pony: Pony Life is on Tiny Pop.