Scott Hanselman

The Nerd Parent's Guide: When and how to introduce your kids to Star Wars

May 7, '12 Comments [50] Posted in Daddy
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Tiny Baby Boba FettLet me start by saying I'm not a big Star Wars guy. I enjoyed the films when I was growing up (I think I saw the original  (Ep. 4 ANH) in 1980 along with Empire Strikes Back in 1980) but I haven't thought much about them since. That said, I appreciate the films and I like movies in general. Watching movies with my kids (usually Pixar movies) have brought us a lot of shared joy as a family. However, Star Wars are fun and classics and we wanted to share them with our kids in a way that worked for everyone given their age and our parenting style.

TL;DR Version

  • Show Star Wars to your kids when you think they can discuss and analyze the themes appropriate. That might be 5, it might be 10. They're your kids.
    • Don't forget you can skip parts.
  • Show them the movie in 20 minute segments and make it a serial adventure rather than a movie.
  • Show the films in "Machete Order" which is episodes 4,5,2,3,6. This maintains surprises while ending on a high note.
    • Yes, episode 1 is hacked out and not shown. You can show it at the end of it all along with the Clone Wars cartoons and bill them as supplemental material.
  • Consider Harmy's Despecialized Version fan edit or the Star Wars: Revisited fan edit.
  • Make the films an event with crafts and discussion of mythology rather than just dumping in on their little brains.

You Stayed to Read it All Version

We are extremely conscious of our two boys' "screen time." They don't use the computer or play video games and they can watch TV on "show days." Show Days for us are Tues, Friday and Saturday when they can watch 20-30 minutes of TV. That adds up to about 90 minutes of screen time a week. We'd rather they dance around, dig in the dirt and play, which they do very well.

The boys watch Wild Kratts, Super Hero Squad and a few other kids' shows. They are 4 and a half and 6 and a half. Lately the topic - actually more the mythology - of Star Wars has been coming up.

"Daddy, who is Dark Vader? Is he a bad guy? I heard he has a Light Saver."

As both boys are in school it was inevitable that this topic would come up amongst the other kids. We're not ones to give in to peer pressure but in this case the boys seemed extremely interested in the characters, and as an extension the ideas around space, distance, planets, travel and the meta-topic of good vs. evil.

The wife and I were aiming to wait until they were 6 and 8 to watch Star Wars but since the interest was so high we decided to give it a try in a very structured way. Everyone's kids are different. One 10 year old might not like the aliens in the cantina while other person's 5 year old would be fascinated by how they constructed the masks and not believe they were real aliens. Our kids tend to be "makers," and as such are always constructing and deconstructing. They also understand the idea of actors and general movie making having made small films on an iPod touch so here's how we decided as parents to introduce our two boys to Star Wars.

Disclaimer: Everyone's kids are different. I'm not advocating, preaching or suggesting that you should do any of this. If some of it works for you, great, if not or if you disagree, also great. This system worked for us.

Structure and Time

First, I watched the first 1977 Star Wars to refresh my memory about the themes and general tone. We didn't want to put two hyper little people in front of effectively what is an intense two hour chase scene that they wouldn't understand. We also wanted to see if there were some scenes that we wanted to avoid all together.

My favorite site for getting into extreme detail on a film's content is Kids In Mind. I use this site before the boys and I watch anything. In this case Kids In Mind has this to say about Star Wars.

Smoking skeletons are seen; many people are threatened with laser guns and sometimes are actually shot (resulting in some deaths but no blood). An arm is cut off and some blood is seen. A few scuffles and attacks, and a couple of explosions. A man is strangled and a man is lifted by his throat and then his limp body is tossed across a room.

This is an excellent and short summary of the three scenes that concerned me. The arm cut off in the cantina, the skeleton at Luke's house and Vader force-choking people, as well as general lasers and chaos.

We decided that we'd show them the first movie (ep. 4 ANH) in 20 minute sittings. We literally sat down, watched 20 minutes at a time then stopped it. Star Wars IV: A New Hope is 125 minutes long, so about 5 or 6 sittings. It took us two weeks to watch the movie, which was just about right.

We also skipped over the severed arm in the Cantina as it's the only blood shown in the first movie and kinds of stands out in a gross way. We also implied that Luke's Aunt and Uncle ran away and the smoking husk in front of the house was a droid that was caught in the fire. These two small omissions cut out 90% of the violence that we were uncomfortable with. The rest we deal with by showing the movie in chunks as well as using each segment as an opportunity to talk about interesting topics as a family.

Discussion

The benefits of splitting the movie up into two weeks of six segments are many. The most significant benefit given that the audience is children was time for discussion and "cool down." Little boys LOVE action. My boys were concocting crazy scenarios with good guys, bad guys and explosions long before they even knew what a television was. They are hard-wired for action,  but again, two hours of action is too much for our little people. Twenty minute segments gave the boys one effectively interesting action segment and a bunch of expository dialogue.

Each time something interesting happened or something intense happened we would pause the show and say something like "wow, why did Han do that?" This would often turn into a 10 minute discussion between us - and more often between the two boys - debating the merits of one action versus another. It also allowed the kids to connect to the story more than the action. If we got the sense that they weren't understanding the movie we would just stop it and try again in 6-12 months. No joke. There's no point showing a movie to a kid if they aren't going to understand the themes.

In a fast moving films it can be hard to keep track of what's happening and who is who. Stopping every 10 minutes or so for a discussion or a
feigned confused parent question like "Wait, why is that guy mad at that guy? Who are they?" gives the kids a chance to absorb the content as well as good practice in explaining complex plots to adults.

Watching only 20 minutes at a time also took what would have been an intense two hour explosion and turned it into a fun weekly episodic serial with the excitement of "what will happen next?" propelling the boys through the week. More discussions and analysis continued and continues even now. The boys haven talked about good and bad, when to fight and when not to.

Version

There's lots of versions of Star Wars as George Lucas continues to tinker with it. The Special Editions that came out in 1997 included lots of computer graphics tweaks and changes. He continued to make changes in 2004 when Star Wars was released on DVD and again when it was released on 2011 on Blu-Ray.

There have been a number of "fan edits" of Star Wars but one of the highest quality and certainly the most popular is "Harmy's Despecialized Edition." This edition takes nine different sources and merges them together into an excellent fan preservation. The Despecialized HD version is a 720 AVCHD dual-sided DVD9.

Nerd on: You likely know that a DVD can hold about 5 gigs and shows films at 480p (480 horizontal lines of resolution) and a Blu-Ray can hold 25 gigs (or 50 gigs when dual later) and show films at 1080p. There was another interstitial format that is used on dual layer DVDs that can hold almost 9 gigs. The AVCHD (Advanced Video Coding High Definition) format is similar to Blu-Rays (it's a derivative, effectively) and you'll find it in many Camcorders. It originally supported 720p.

You can get the Star Wars Despecialized Edition HD in an AVCHD format for a Dual Layer DVD9. This is a lovely 720p fan edit that is playable on many Blu-Ray Players.  I own the original DVD boxed set as well. You are required to own a legitimate copy in order to watch a fan edit and you must never pay for a fan edit. There's box art and labels you can download to put together your own copies for the home. There's a number of nice YouTube comparison clips showing your choices so you can decide if you care or not about showing a fan-edit. We watched the Harmy Edit and at least *I* appreciated the effort and attention to details.

Movie Ordering

We all watched the movies in the order they came out which is 4,5,6 then 1,2,3. When you're showing the Star Wars movies to a new person you have the advantage to show them the movies in whatever order you like. The most popular and well respected alternate order is Machete Order from Rod Hilton. He recommends showing the movies in this order:

  • 4 - Star Wars: A New Hope
  • 5 - Empire Strikes Back
  • 2 - Attack of The Clones
  • 3 - Revenge of the Sith
  • 6 - Return of the Jedi

You'll notice there is no film #1. That's for a number of reasons, some passionate but others logical and well-reasoned.

Passion:

"Episode I is a failure on every possible level. The acting, writing, directing, and special effects are all atrocious, and the movie is just plain boring. Luckily, George Lucas has done everyone a favor by making the content of Episode I completely irrelevant to the rest of the series. Seriously, think about it for a minute. Name as many things as you can that happen in Episode I and actually help flesh out the story in any subsequent episode."

Logic:

Every character established in Episode I is either killed or removed before it ends (Darth Maul, Qui-Gon, Chancellor Valorum), unimportant (Nute Gunray, Watto), or established better in a later episode (Mace Windu, Darth Sidious). Does it ever matter that Palpatine had an apprentice before Count Dooku? Nope, Darth Maul is killed by the end of Episode I and never referenced again. You may as well just start with the assumption that Dooku was the only apprentice. Does it ever matter that Obi-Wan was being trained by Qui-Gon? Nope, Obi-Wan is well into training Anakin at the start of Episode II, Qui-Gon is completely irrelevant.

Search your feelings, you know it to be true! Episode I doesn’t matter at all.

He goes on to explain not only that Episode #1 doesn't matter but also that the really exciting surprises like who Luke's father is and others are maintained with this order.

Given that our kids are younger, we will stop the series for a while after Attack of the Clones. Episode 3, Revenge of the Sith is super dark and the most physically violent of the films. I want to wait until I feel the boys are ready to internalize that much intensity. I suspect that will be around 10 years or, perhaps older. After that we'll pick up where we left off. You should decide on your own but it's useful to be aware or reminded how dark episode 3 really is.

Conclusion

We've introduced our little people to the Star Wars mythology in a slow and structured way. There's been more talking and playing in the backyard so far than actual movie watching. There's been discussions of movie making and how to make an alien mask. There's been cardboard light sabers and grappling hooks made of straws. There's been hours of discussion about character motivations, why good guys do good stuff, why bad guys do bad stuff and why Han Solo likes money and whether or not we should "mess with Yoda."

Overall, my wife and I are happy with the results. I hope this post helps you and your kids jump into Star Wars. I'm off now to deal with the burning question in our household this week: "Who took Chewbacca's pants?"

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Monday, May 07, 2012 11:34:25 PM UTC
Uhm...what's this episode 1, 2, and 3 that you speak of? Only 4, 5, and 6 are registering in my brain. Next thing you are going to tell me is that there was a Highlander 2. ;)
Tuesday, May 08, 2012 12:05:29 AM UTC

I appreciated the guide.

My daughter is 5 and is very sensitive (cried during parts of Shrek) so I was worried, but I had got the full BluRay set and was watching Star Wars.

Machete order may make sense (Ep 1 is truly boring and hard to follow, it's very true. Even the pod race is boring) though I find Jedi is still a nice and fun uplift after Empire, better than Clones for that. In other word, original order for me.

You missed mentioning some scenes: Anakin butchering the Tuskens. I skipped it (she didn't miss it, was bored at the Tatooine part).


And now, months after seeing it originally, her most frightening scene was Luke losing his hand to his father. Which, well, YEAH. That was pretty much the suck. If your dad started throwing stuff at you and scaring you and sliced off your hand and let you know you are destined to be evil and join the big bad, AND fall to certain death and hang on a coathanger with one hand and the hatch closes when you try to climb, and as you hang there your only hope is the princess you love and want to rescue who you have no clue or reason to know is your sister and also a Jedi ninja deep inside? Yeah.

(Btw didn't show Sith really, certainly not the slaughter. But Ani's conversion with Palpatine she actually did walk in on and I carefully explained.That was more intellectual than emotional. She knew long before that the little boy becomes Dark Vader ("he's Light Vader"). She just thought it wasn't very convincing that he'd change to be bad. Which, well, YEAH. Not a source of nightmares - Shrek had nights of counseling by comparison.



Not saying that age 5 is "right". I wanted to wait until later. But I don't think it went too badly, and she was absolutely delighted to understand this "Star Wars" that all the boys were going on about in kindergarten.

Lots of talking about the movie for sure while it's on (and a pause button handy). And know your kid!





ee
Tuesday, May 08, 2012 12:21:44 AM UTC
ee - Thanks. As I said, I'm talking about Episode 4, so there is no Anakin yet, etc. It'll be 6 months before we make it to Ep 2, but your point is taken. Every kid is different. This was the right time for our boys for these two movies. We're only through ANH and ESB at this point. We'll likely take a short break during the sunny summer months. :)
Tuesday, May 08, 2012 2:08:42 AM UTC
Never heard of Kids In Mind before, my wife and I usually check out PluggedInOnline or CommonSenseMedia. We'll use this to help decide if we're ready to let our kids watch something or if we'll take them to the theaters to see something or if we'll wait until we can watch it at home with them Then we own a ClearPlay player that does the filtering for us and we can set the levels of filtering for different categories. The biggest downside is that it only plays DVDs and doesn't support BluRay or streaming. But since Pixar doesn't need filtering I can watch those on BluRay the way they were intended (with my kids of course ;) ).
Tuesday, May 08, 2012 3:33:14 AM UTC
There are a couple of things you're going to miss from Episode 1 - the first is how innocent, kind and well-meaning Anakin was and secondly how manipulative Senator Palpatine was. I personally think it's interesting how they came together.
Tuesday, May 08, 2012 6:29:06 AM UTC
Thanks for the excellent post Scott.

I've got a (nearly) 2 year old boy and we're doing our best to limit TV time (actually, at the moment its no TV time). Its hard work not using the TV as a "baby-sitter", you actually have to engage with your kids! So BIG respect to you for doing that.

We plan to introduce TV in the same manner that you've mentioned in your post. I like your approach to action movies like Star Wars. Will keep this post in mind when the time is right. I hadn't heard of the Kids In Mind website, or the others the other posters have mentioned. All good stuff!
Tuesday, May 08, 2012 6:54:12 AM UTC
Hehehe, almost like a religious thing? I think you need to send your kids to Jedi School ;)
Tuesday, May 08, 2012 7:02:17 AM UTC
Wow, that's a eye opener! 90 minutes a week? That's super awesome, how about breaks like Spring Breaks etc.?

Trying to wean my 5 year old from some trashy cartoons he's gotten hooked to during his Summer Break here!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012 7:16:11 AM UTC
The concept of showing star wars to your kids as a serial is something that i find so "within the theme" of star wars, that it actually makes me excited for your kids.

lucas' inspiration for star wars was in part the serialised adventures of flash gordon, so for you to present it in this way to your kids must only increase their excitement for the next installment. im an 80s kid, so when i watched them all in the early 90's i watched them all one after the other. the concept of waiting between episodes is something i missed out on, no wonder fans flocked to the cinema.

i also applaud the steps you're taking on your kids behalf. i think responsible parenting regarding screen is something thats often overlooked. far too many use the pc or tv as a baby sitter instead of taking an active interest in their activities.

ps - those tweets made me laugh. a childs interpretation of what does and doesn't make sense in film is always hilarious.
Tuesday, May 08, 2012 9:54:54 AM UTC
Hum.. Well my parents surely weren't this careful! I'm not sure what I will do when I get "there", I never though there was anything wrong with Star Wars... My memory is a bit fuzzy in my early years, but I can't remember *not* watching it. Taking in consideration a few life events, I can say I must have watched it loads of times by the time I was 5, maybe 6. (though I took me a while - years! - to understand why Han Solo felt so insulted by being called 'scruffy looking')

My dad would just throw any weird sci-fi/horror thing at me, regardless of age. I remember watching The Fly and the American Werefolf in London (which I remember finding funny because the werewolf reminded me a poodle) still under or around 7yo. And I watched Alien and Terminator 2 of my own accord, shortly thereafter. Though Alien did scare me a bit.. but that's what you get for watching it home alone.
Tuesday, May 08, 2012 12:34:23 PM UTC
Will your next posting be a similar guide for Star Trek? :-)
Tuesday, May 08, 2012 1:57:44 PM UTC
My 4yo son really wanted to watch Star Wars, so I converted the (Episode 4) DVD to AVI and used Adobe Premiere to cut out the most intense parts. In the end I removed less than 2 minutes of footage and we didn't even notice the edits. Empire will be a bit trickier, but worth it to limit the exposure to violence.

Here are the parts I removed and the edits were only for a few seconds each.

1. Sand people come up in front of the scope
2. Burning corpses of Luke's aunt and uncle
3. Cut off arm in bar
4. Vader choking guy in ship
5. Monster in trash compactor
JP
Tuesday, May 08, 2012 2:54:31 PM UTC
It's good to see parents actually parenting. So often you hear people taking there 4 year olds to SAW III or other rated R movies. They don't even think what affect it will have on their children.
Dave
Tuesday, May 08, 2012 3:35:02 PM UTC
As for the order, I'd actually stick to the order in which they were released: 4, 5, 6, 1, 2, 3

But that's me.

As George Lucas puts it, Star Wars is really the story of Darth Vader. He's the main antagonist in 4, 5, 6. And he's the main protagonist in 1, 2, and 3. Actually 3 stands out as it's when we first see him shift to the dark side. Still, in my opinion this order tells the story best.
Tuesday, May 08, 2012 5:29:17 PM UTC
From a literary perspective, Episode I matters the most because it shows us how war begins from peace, and how corruption begins at a young age from poor parenting. Sure, peace is a little boring, but it's full of powerful moral lessons that your children are missing.
Tuesday, May 08, 2012 7:44:49 PM UTC
I certainly wouldn't take my kids to Saw III (nor Saw I or Saw II for that matter). However, I do think there is a big difference between "adult" content and real-life themes. Personally, I wouldn't shield my 10 year old from any of the scenes in Star Wars for the same reason I wouldn't hack-out Mufasa's death scene from Lion King. Real life isn't just pink daffodils and singing birds. I don't want my kids to grow-up in an alternate reality happy Matrix bubble and then be exposed to the big, bad world at 18. I would warn my kids about the tough scenes and then we would talk about them afterwords. Yes, Vader choked the guy because Vader is evil (well, temporarily anyways) -- there are evil people in real-life too. Yes, the Empire killed Luke's Aunt and Uncle because the Empire is evil. Maybe we talk a little bit how evil empires exist in the real world as well (Nazi Germany, holocaust, etc.) Greedo's arm getting lasered and Ben hacking-off the alien's arm? You need to protect yourself in life and, if necessary, that may include a decision between your life and somebody else's (self-preservation). All of these scenes are learning opportunities about life IMHO. Finally, thematically, it's hard to see (and appreciate) the light unless you also see the darkness.
Tuesday, May 08, 2012 7:49:18 PM UTC
Agreed on 90% of what you're saying. There is a large difference between a 4 year old and a 10 year old, however.
Tuesday, May 08, 2012 9:21:11 PM UTC
Nice. But what I really need is When and how to introduce your WIFE to Star Wars.
Tuesday, May 08, 2012 11:54:17 PM UTC
So you're saying we need to get our kids up to speed with pop culture, but it might hurt them so we censor it and prepare for counceling. Weird stuff. And there seems to be a market for it even (ClearPlay, ....)!
Patrick
Wednesday, May 09, 2012 4:43:18 AM UTC
Wusses ;)

My introduction to Star Wars was going to see Empire, in the cinema at age 6 having not seen ep4... yeaaah not good, left scars.

My own boys, of 4 & 7, I started on Ep1 to introduce them to the universe, the force, light-sabers - the cool things that got their attention, without raising all the story & good versus evil questions. There's enough lulls in the story to chat through it too.

We then started with the Lego Star Wars games, which does all the editing and padding for you, even the big "twist" doesn't really spoil anything.

Craig
Wednesday, May 09, 2012 7:55:34 AM UTC
Patrick - No, I didn't say any of that. I said that my kids wanted to watch Star Wars, and they were a little young for it (4 is young) so I spoon fed it to them slowly.
Wednesday, May 09, 2012 10:32:49 AM UTC
I have to disagree with you I'm afraid.

Any 'true' fan knows the correct order is 4,5,6,1,2,3,4,5,6

And none of this 20 minute segment lark. A 14 hour marathon is the appropriate way.
Wednesday, May 09, 2012 12:36:00 PM UTC
I don't think I want to mention the screen hours for the twin 4 year olds in our house, well, at least one of them anyway. It's atrocious by these standards. Ipad, DSi, Leapster, Wii, and TV oh my! The screen time doesn't exclude sports, socializing, and crafting, however. The control you exert is mythic, but does it come at the price of allowing control over choices to be internalized? If TV or screen time is limited to specific times or days, doesn't that create the perception that their choices are external? I've never enforced a regime for these activities because the sooner that a child realizes that life requires flexible choices based on circumstance seems like a positive win. I'm not advocating a limitless buffet of TV. But, a healthy respect for flexible schedules seems more important than ever. When we were kids TV was external, you couldn't record easily and Saturday morning cartoons only appeared once a week. That's not the world my kids live in, and the sooner they adapt to an on-demand world, the better. Would it be ok to establish specific times during the week when they can color or ride bikes? Aren't you de-valuing certain activities based on your time-boxing and removing their ability to form their own opinions on relative value? We do that everyday as parents, but I try to do it as little as possible.

Sorry, this is more about the TV time than Star Wars, but I have a kid named Luke. Star Wars was kind if a given for us. I'm happy to have held the line at #4 so far.
Michael
Wednesday, May 09, 2012 1:09:17 PM UTC
Yusus kaya, Star Trek is easy - don't bother with any of them.

;)
Wednesday, May 09, 2012 5:00:23 PM UTC
The Star Wars thing at my son's school went viral with his classmates well before I was ready to introduce him to it. But I went with it anyway, and it worked out. He was five at the time we started them, and I went with the original release order, and the DVD release versions.

Before we watched any of the films though, we read the original novels of 4, 5, and 6, which was awesome, because when we got to the films, we didn't have to pause and constantly figure out the plot. The novels had some grown-up vocabulary that I had to simplify on the spot as I was reading it, but it still worked and got the point across.

We watched 4,5,6, and 1, and then I waited a whole year before watching 2 and 3, which were both too violent and dark for my 5 year old at the time. By age 6, he was much more prepared for the emotional scenes in those movies, and picked up on things like pregnancy and deception that he wouldn't have a year earlier.

Of course it all ended with a Star Wars birthday party that I created a ton of props for with leftover materials from various home remodels. I think it was all probably more fun for me to relive all this stuff from my childhood than it was for my son to get into it.
Wednesday, May 09, 2012 6:59:00 PM UTC
Episode I is allowed in my house for the sole reason that Darth Maul is a badass.
Ed D.
Wednesday, May 09, 2012 8:00:14 PM UTC
In what order to show Star Wars to kids? Why is this even discussed? Get the Harmy despecialized versions and show them in this order: 4, 5, 6. That way the kids see the same story we all saw and loved, and we had no reason to see additional episodes. Why should the kids watch crap that is the prequels? Because they "explain and expand" the story? No, they make it crappier. Cut out the crap, and only show the good stuff.

Yes, some might say that the kids "will not get the complete story". Well, we got it only after waiting for 20 years, and that didnt stop us from loving and enjoying the original movies, now did it?

Just say no to prequels.
Wednesday, May 09, 2012 11:51:15 PM UTC
So, I forget how old Ben was when he saw the Star Wars movies for the first time. 5, I believe. I don't censor, but that's just me. And, like you said, kids are different.

He had inherited my old figures, and a fair bit of LEGO. He had also seen some clone wars cartoons (which are really well done).

This year, after his 6th birthday, I did something I had been dying to do and sat down with him to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark (he had asked about it after seeing the LEGO).

Overall, not bad, but the religious and historical themes were mostly lost on him. He got the Egyption stuff, but knew none of the history that helps ROTLA make sense. I saw it in the theaters when it came out, by myself as I recall; I would have been 9. I had seen it a million times sense then (it's one of my favorite movies.) I know I didn't understand it when I first saw it at the theater any more than I understood the real themes behind Star Wars when I saw that at the movies at the age of 5, right after my birthday (1977, baby!)

Raiders is the first thing I watched with him that I wished I had censored. The fight scenes were ok, but the melting/exploding faces at the end (which I had completely forgotten about), didn't sit well. That part ruined his enjoyment of it, but otherwise he really liked it.

Ben also liked SW Episode 1, even Jar Jar, but I threatened to throw him out of the house if he ever admitted that in public ;)

Pete
Thursday, May 10, 2012 11:12:40 AM UTC
Not a parent myself, and not really someone who likes kids that much, but this was interesting to read nevertheless.

I don't remember when I was "exposed" to Star Wars (or other movies with some violent/adult content), but I doubt it was as young as yours are now.

I initially thought your approach was bit silly and over-protective, but considering your kids are pretty young, and after reading more, it actually started making a lot of sense.

I especially like that you paused and encouraged discussion of the intense parts. It's nice to see an approach like this as I'm sure it encourages the kids to think for themselves and not just take other people's opinions for fact.
Friday, May 11, 2012 11:29:49 AM UTC
The problem with PluggedIn Online is that it's run by those lunatics at "Focus on the Family" (James Dobson's outfit). All their movie reviews have a conservative spin.
RM-S
Friday, May 11, 2012 10:50:15 PM UTC
One of the best descriptions of active watching I've seen. This is exactly the way we were taught to present TV/Video media to very young children. One other point to remember is that children do not pick up plot sequentially. That is they may remember the middle bit first, next view they are able to get another section, it takes the average 5 year old 5-10 repeats of a film to put the whole plot together. (which is why parents get really tired of watching Shrek 1,000 times)

Manda, Early Childhood Teacher.
Manda
Sunday, May 13, 2012 10:16:19 PM UTC
I played the LEGO starwars game with my kids some years ago. That is just an awesome way to be introduced to the starwars universe. Did the same ting with indiana Jones and lately Harry poter. By the time they get to see the movie, they have spend many hours on the story and pretty much knows what is gong to happen.
Monday, May 14, 2012 4:46:02 PM UTC
I thought the comment about Luke failing to use The Force to stay warm on Hoth an insightful observation, but the young lad needs to be told that up to that point Luke had only received some very minimal instruction about The Force. His skills to that point were clearly not up to keeping warm! Although the argument could be made that he was using The Force to stay warmer than otherwise. When Han found him he might just have been frozen solid. Hoth isn't just winter cold, it is Antarctic cold.

This conveys the important idea of gradual improvement in skills and knowledge over time and use. Children should learn that while their abilities may seem inadequate now, with practice they will improve.
Monday, May 14, 2012 5:12:33 PM UTC
It's weird that people have to cut the films and make other arrangements in order to show them to their kids. I don't understand what's the hurry? Wait a couple of years and show them the full film for full effect. The movies can wait. They were not meant for 4 year olds any way!
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 3:23:17 PM UTC
It has been a while since I have watched any of the newer Episodes, but I agree with you completely when it comes to Episode 1.

I had only watched Episode 3 once, when it was at the cinema, so a few weeks back I decided to watch it again. I only managed about 20mins before switching it off because I thought it was boring as hell!

Very rarely do I ever stop watching movies, but I just couldn't get through it.

Keep up the great posts, and I will be seeing you in Glasgow!
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 9:09:11 PM UTC
Great idea, however I find it quite hard to believe that your kids will not find out in the next 4-6 years the biggest spoiler alert in movie history, therefore ruining the integrity of the ending to the series through the "Machete Order". The series by release date (4,5,6,1,2,3) order I believe would be a more rewarding experience depending on how you view another arm being chopped off.
Ian Rockefeller
Saturday, May 19, 2012 3:11:20 PM UTC
I let my boys (7 and 5) watch it - mostly the 7 year, when he was 5-6.

We actually started with episode 1 and he liked it, so each Saturday we'd watch the next episode. During the week, there was that anticipation of the next episode -By the end, he was super excited for the end.

Episode 3, although with much action, had the part at the end with Anakin in the fire - that part we fast forwarded past - a bit too much for sure.

There were many discussions of how Anakin went from Jedi to Darth Vadar - but all good :)

Funny how we all made fun of Jar Jar Binks - but my youngest really liked him - go figure :)
Saturday, May 19, 2012 3:14:42 PM UTC
I should add, to counter the negative post above about Focus on the Family - Dobson is great, has a great book on raising boys.

Sad to see people denounce what solid families in American find beneficial and practical.

Back to Star Wars - like above, my 7 yr old played the Lego Star Wars games, great games !

Also, Clone Wars is definitely too mature - I'd hold off on that series (or at least until they are older)
Monday, May 21, 2012 4:07:11 PM UTC
Here is a great supplemental PSA about when to have the talk with your kids.

<a href="http://youtu.be/pCjMGOvMghY" title="Star Wars Talk" \>
Monday, May 21, 2012 4:09:19 PM UTC
Doh! Let me try that again...

Here is a great supplemental PSA about when to have the talk with your kids.

Star Wars Talk
Thursday, August 09, 2012 9:03:07 PM UTC
Here's another good site that will help you with Movie Reviews:

Movieguide

I happen to work for this company be we do the most thorough reviews around and tell parents all the content that is in the movies.

I appreciate your article since most of what we try to educate families about is how the media affects the cognitive stages of development in children.



Friday, August 17, 2012 2:24:43 PM UTC
I'm coming back to this post again. I will bookmark this to re-read when I some day have kids of my own!
Wednesday, September 26, 2012 8:27:57 AM UTC
Hi Scott, Scott here. I just wanted to say, DUDE!!!! Your Twitter posts in this were freaking hilarious. Thanks for the laughs during my hectic schedule.

Because of you, we'll have to watch Star Wars this weekend. It's been TOO long.
Monday, November 05, 2012 8:55:51 AM UTC
You should let your boys listen to the Clone Wars audio plays. They are the best alternative to movies imo. Our sons (8,8,4) love them.
Tuesday, January 01, 2013 8:38:32 PM UTC
I would be interested in hearing your take (as regards to your kiddos) on the Lord of the Rings trilogy, especially now that the Hobbit movies will be coming out.
Leslie Boston
Wednesday, January 02, 2013 7:24:40 AM UTC
Leslie - We are taking it slow with the Lord of the Rings as they are considerably more bloody and violent. There are several beheading in The Hobbit movie and a rather dramatic disembowelment.

Martin - I'll check that out, thanks!
Tuesday, January 08, 2013 8:28:50 PM UTC
The pedant in me can't help but point out that your "nerd on" note about DVD9 isn't quite correct. You seem to be mixing up the physical formats of the discs with the format of the data that's stored on them.

DVD9 isn't some intermediate 720p format between regular DVD and Blu-ray.

From the beginning of the DVD standard, physical DVDs have come in 4.7GB single layer ("DVD5") and 8.5GB dual layer ("DVD9") formats (note that DVD9 is dual layer, not dual sided--you don't have to flip them over to play the second layer). The vast majority of movies commercially released on DVD are released on dual layer DVD9 media. They're still 480p resolution, though, because the data on the disc is encoded in DVD Video format, which only supports 480p.

But DVDs can also store data in formats other than DVD Video, just like CDs can store data in formats other than Audio CD. And just like some standalone CD players are capable of playing certain kinds of music files (MP3, WMA, etc.) from data CDs, there are some standalone Blu-ray and DVD video players that are capable of playing certain kinds of video files (including those encoded in AVCHD) from data DVDs (and BDs).

So when you say that Harmy's Despecialized Edition is a "720 AVCHD dual-sided DVD9" what you really mean is that it's a 720p AVCHD-encoded MKV file that fits on a dual-layer DVD9.

All of that said, I thank you for sharing your thoughts about showing Star Wars to the kids, as I've been debating whether my 5.5yo is ready yet or not (he's increasingly interested in Star Wars toys and characters, but knows nothing about the movies), and the 20 minute installment idea is an excellent one! (Also, I wasn't previously aware of the Despecialized Edition, and may just have to check that out for my own purposes...)
Micah
Wednesday, January 16, 2013 2:26:03 AM UTC
Hi Scott,

This is quite an intriguing approach, and I really like the concept of taking screen-time and turning it into something mind-expanding, rather than mind-numbing. I'm not a parent, but will be when the time is right, but I do have a question: how do you deal with situations where parents of your kids' friends don't share the same goals/ideals as you wrt the whole screen-time thing, and they go and ruin your plans by sitting the kids down in front of a movie at a birthday party. I only ask this because this happened when I was kid, and sparked a bit of angst between one set of parents who weren't ok with the choice of movie, and the parents who organised the party (neither of them were my parents, so I've no emotional attachment). I'm interested to hear your thoughts, because this seems, to me, to be a potential spanner in the works, and I don't know how I would approach it.

Cheers,

Guy.
Monday, March 04, 2013 4:27:40 AM UTC
Thanks for this great post Scott. We mentioned it on our blog Star Wars Parenting with the link - I hope that's ok! Your tweets are hilarious and if you have any more stories you'd like to share about teaching moments you pulled from Star Wars or life lessons your kids got from watching them (the seat belt example is perfect!), we'd love to feature you as a guest blogger sometime - your ten minutes of Star Wars and then discussion approach is right up our alley. Check us out http://www.starwarsparenting.com or shoot us an email.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013 7:16:24 AM UTC
Show Star Wars to your kids when you think they can discuss and analyze the themes appropriate. That might be 5, it might be 10. They're your kids. Belgravia villas
mike lores
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.