Is It OK If My Child Watches the Same Kids Videos Over and Over Again?

It’s baf­fling. You won­der how on Earth your child could bring him­self or her­self to watch the same movie for what must be the hun­dredth time. Sure enough, as the last scene fades away your child starts it up again with rapt atten­tion to the famil­iar footage. Is there some­thing wrong with your child? You’ll prob­a­bly feel relieved to hear that this pen­chant for rep­e­ti­tion is com­mon, espe­cial­ly for young chil­dren. And it’s not just kids videos. Chil­dren tend to show these rep­e­ti­tion pat­terns with oth­er types of media, like favorite movies, books, and games.

So why do chil­dren feel the need to watch the same thing over and over again, and is it some­thing you should be con­cerned about? We took to par­ent­ing web­sites and pub­lished stud­ies to research this com­mon ques­tion. Here’s what we found.

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Kids Watch the Same Thing Repeatedly Because It's Comforting

Think about all the new expe­ri­ences your child encoun­ters every day. Many of the small, sim­ple things we take for grant­ed have yet to become rou­tine for young chil­dren. As excit­ing as it is to expe­ri­ence life through the sens­es of a young child, it can also be over­whelm­ing and stress­ful at times. Watch­ing some­thing famil­iar may be your child’s attempt to self-soothe. Chil­dren turn to famil­iar things, like a favorite kids video, because it can be reas­sur­ing for them to know all of the char­ac­ters as well as what’s going to hap­pen next.

Revis­it­ing the same media can also boost your child’s con­fi­dence. It’s a way for chil­dren to remind them­selves of what they know. Like ask­ing your child to name the ani­mal in the sto­ry or quote their favorite line in a movie, chil­dren notice and rev­el in their own abil­i­ty to get it right.”

Repetition Can Improve a Child's Comprehension

Not only can rep­e­ti­tion make your child feel more at ease and boost their con­fi­dence, it can also aid in their com­pre­hen­sion. 2011 study found that chil­dren who were read the same sto­ry­books over again end­ed up learn­ing more of the vocab­u­lary from those books than chil­dren who were read a vari­ety of books with dif­fer­ent vocab­u­lary. Rep­e­ti­tion, not vari­a­tion, helped the chil­dren learn new words.

You can fur­ther this com­pre­hen­sion by active­ly watch­ing your child’s favorite kids video along with him or her. Ask your child what he or she likes about the sto­ry or the char­ac­ters. Point out things your child may not focus on and explain their sig­nif­i­cance. The ben­e­fit to watch­ing the same thing repeat­ed­ly is it pro­vides ample oppor­tu­ni­ty to iden­ti­fy the mes­sages and lessons you most want your child to learn from the con­tent. You also have plen­ty of occa­sions to draw your child’s atten­tion to those valu­able messages. 

When Your Child's Repetition Can Be Problematic

Rep­e­ti­tion should be a con­cern if your child is con­sum­ing kids video con­tent that isn’t appro­pri­ate for their age or doesn’t offer much val­ue. We talk about the kinds of kids videos par­ents should prob­a­bly lim­it or elim­i­nate from their child’s view­ing habits in 5 Types of Kids Videos to Avoid. These videos include unbox­ing and toy play videos, as well as videos with intense imagery or inap­pro­pri­ate social inter­ac­tions. You can avoid these videos by curat­ing con­tent that is high qual­i­ty depend­ing on your child’s age and par­tic­u­lar needs. We talk about the types of videos that par­ent­ing advo­cates believe have val­ue for chil­dren in What Kids Videos Are Right for My Child?

In addi­tion to restrict­ing what kids videos your child repeat­ed­ly watch­es, you also need to set lim­its on your child’s screen time. This applies to all chil­dren, not just those who pre­fer to watch the same con­tent a dozen times or more. Hear what par­ent­ing advo­cates rec­om­mend for screen time based on your child’s age and cre­at­ing your own screen time sched­ule.

Children (and Parents) Still Need Variety

Even though allow­ing your chil­dren to watch the same kids videos over and over again isn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly bad and may even help them, you still need to ensure that your chil­dren are expe­ri­enc­ing a vari­ety of kids con­tent and activ­i­ties. So let your chil­dren enjoy their favorite video or book to their heart’s con­tent, but also make sure they’re expe­ri­enc­ing plen­ty of play and social inter­ac­tion oppor­tu­ni­ties. You’ll also want to take the time to intro­duce them to new con­tent with new mes­sages and lessons. 

And face it, vari­ety is also impor­tant for your own san­i­ty. That’s why the Jel­lies team is hap­py to watch the same train videos so many times, so you don’t have to lose your mind. Click here to down­load the Jel­lies app.