You are a parent and you see your children watching a TV program, that they are completely engaged with. Suddenly, you notice something. It seems like it’s the same episode they were just watching earlier that day, or maybe it was a few days ago, or maybe last week or last month. You notice it and become irritated. ‘Didn’t they just watch that episode? Why would that channel repeat their programs so much? My kids need something NEW to watch every day!
To quote Vanessa LoBue Ph.D., from an article last year in Psychology Today, “…while adults can easily pick up new information from a single exposure, when kids ask to watch the same movie they’ve already seen a hundred times or read the same book before bed for the 10th night in a row, it might just be their way of learning the storyline. And although it might be boring or even annoying to do the same thing over and over and over (and over and over) again, this extra practice might be just what children need to learn new things.”
What we now know from research is this: kids can benefit from repeated exposure to content, while adults can easily pick up information from a single exposure. Reading a book repeatedly, even if it is the same book, can give you a better understanding of the storyline.
Let’s Think About This For a Second
Have you ever read a book or watched a movie and realized you missed something the first time around? In learning, oftentimes the first exposure is introductory and builds basic ideas of the storyline and background knowledge. The next exposure can provide character development knowledge, as well as motivation nuance and perhaps comprehension-related moments that may have been missed (e.g., “I wonder how she was feeling when she made that decision?”). But there is another really important factor in repeated exposure to content that isn’t about academic knowledge; it’s a tool to develop self-confidence and creates comfort.
Children Live in Unpredictable Worlds
Situations can often change dramatically around children and they have very little to no control over their environment (or their own safety and well-being for that matter). Knowing what is going to happen is comforting. Being able to speak along with that line or sing along with that song is empowering; it’s a demonstration of knowledge and expertise that children rarely get to own or articulate to others. Repetition can provide a foundation of knowledge and a confirmation that they, the child, knows something. It can give a child agency and make them feel like they are experts.
When children develop expertise, it can grow confidence in their knowledge and build upon their self-worth. A considerable amount of good can be done by watching that program again, whether it’s today or it is in a month! Confucius says, “Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace.” Confucius was one smart cookie.
It should be noted that as children grow and develop, repetition can get boring, and rather than supporting their development it can become an annoyance. This is natural, and one of the reasons that on-demand video platforms exist – a ten-year-old child may have a very different perspective on repetition than a 5-year-old child.
Our Approach at Akili Kids!
We at Akili Kids! have launched our channel primarily with programmes that will appeal to younger children and the repetition you may notice is intentional. More shows for older children, that do not repeat as often but have the same great values, are being introduced over the next few months. We are adding more programming, original and locally developed, and finding shows from around the world that are incredibly entertaining, but also have educational value, something we call a learning outcome.
We want your kids, our kids, to love our programmes and someday realize they learned something really important from watching our shows, whether it’s the name of a shape or how to pronounce that tough vocabulary word, or to describe their favorite cartilaginous sea creature (a shark?). We want kids to feel like experts, grow their self-confidence and self-worth, and develop imaginations that can help influence and grow Kenya, even change the World.
To think, that could all start with the fact that they have repeated watching a program!
Co-Founder, Akili Network