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28 September 2017

Enhancing Creativity in Children With Entertainment Media

Keywords: characters, education, intervention, media, Middle East & Central Asia, computer, internet, kids, survey,

A study in Thinking Skills and Creativity shows that a 10-week intervention program using entertainment media enhances children’s creative thinking abilities. As part of the intervention program, children watched their favorite television shows. While watching, they practiced perspective taking (for example, guessing the character’s upcoming reaction according to its facial expression). This increased their ability to generate creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions. 

Take aways

  • Entertainment media, such as movies and television shows, can function as a valuable educational tool to enhance children’s creative thinking skills.
  • Specifically, by practicing perspective taking while watching their favorite movies and television shows (for example guessing a character’s reaction according to his or her facial expression) children become more creative thinkers: when asked to solve a simple problem, they come up with more different ideas, and also more unique ideas.  

Study information

  • The question?

    What impact does a 10-week media-based intervention program have on the creative thinking abilities in children?

  • Who?

    286 10-14-year-olds from elementary and middle-schools in Israel (mean age: 11 years old; 56% girls)

  • Where?


  • How?

    Over a period of 10 weeks, participants took part in an intervention program with exercises aimed at developing children’s creativity, in particular their ability to come up with many different solutions for a certain problem and to think outside-the-box (also referred to as divergent thinking abilities). Exercises were practiced in class and beyond school hours (at home).

    Before and after the program, children did a creativity test (Tel Avive Creativity Test). In this test, the children were asked, for example, ‘What can be done with a newspaper?’ and ‘What are the ways in which a potato and a carrot are alike?’ The higher the number of different ideas given and the more unique (less common) the ideas, the higher the child scored on creativity.

    The intervention program consisted of two stages of exercises:

    • The aim of the first stage (five weeks) was to enhance children’s sensitivity to facial expressions, gestures and tracking hidden nuances of other people (also referred to as perspective taking). The children practiced with the recognition and interpretation of other people’s emotional states by using examples from their favorite movies and television shows, for example: 
      • The children were asked to choose an emotion they had to present to their peers in class by taking a photo of a movie or television character that reflected this emotion (for example a photo of Tom and Jerry expressing anger). 
      • The children watched several movie clips and television scenes. Each time the scene was interrupted, the children were asked to guess a character’s reaction according to his or her facial expression, body language and tone of voice.
      • The children were asked to name the character of an animation television series who they thought to be best dubbed and a character who they found worst dubbed.
    • In the second stage (five weeks), the children were encouraged to explore their physical and virtual surroundings (in reality as well as in media) by making use of the skills they had learned in the first stage, for example through the following assignments:
      • The children were challenged to dub and re-invent the content of short movie clips from the popular animated television series “Spongebob Squarepants”.
      • The children were asked to imagine how popular heroes from TV, cinema and video games would behave in a certain problematic situation the children occasionally had to face in their everyday life, such as preparing for an important exam.
      • The children were presented with short television scenes and asked to classify characters as either “good” or “bad”. After that a discussion was held aiming at exercising the ability to make distinctions less oversimplified.

Facts and findings

  • Children who participated in the intervention program scored higher in the creativity test taken at the end of the program than children who did not. Thus, the children who participated in the program generated more different ideas and also more unique ideas than those who did not participate.