It was nothing short of a love affair – each week, you saw at least one movie. For you, it was not just mere entertainment or an escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Watching movies, for you, is an immersive experience, from the story and production to the reaction of the entire audience in the theater to what is shown on the big screen.
But today, you hardly go to the movies anymore. Now that you have a kid to look after, squeezing in time to go to the cinema can be a tough challenge. However, you want to share your passion for film with your child, so he can experience for himself the awe of a story well told through meticulous craftsmanship.
But how exactly do you begin?
The right age to bring your kid to the movies
At what age should you introduce your child to watching movies in the theater? How early is too early?
Experts in kids’ health recommend limiting the screen time of children, depending on their age. For example, babies should not get any screen time at all. At around 18 to 24 months, kids can begin watching educational programs. By two years old, screen time can be increased to a total of one hour per day.
Today’s movies usually go over an hour, with others easily reaching the two-hour mark. While it is all right to take a young kid to the movie theater, this should only be done from time to time.
Watching movies counts toward the recommended screen time for your child. Going over the expert recommendations can have an adverse effect on the different facets of your child’s well-being. These include the quality of his sleep, language learning, and social and emotional development.
Is your child ready for his first movie?
The answer will depend heavily on your child. Apart from the screen time recommendation, there are a few factors that you need to consider before buying movie tickets for you and your child.
- First, you have to be aware that some movies can get pretty loud. And if your child is easily startled by loud noises, you might have to postpone his first trip to the cinema.
- Second, you have to determine whether your kid is comfortable to spend time in a cold and dark movie theater. The reaction to the environment will vary from child to child.
- Finally, ask yourself if he will sit still for the duration of the movie. In the middle of the screening, he might ask to go to the bathroom or simply to go out and walk around.
Going to the movies: A few helpful tips
If you feel that your child is ready to watch movies at the cinema, here are a few useful tips that you can follow.
Choose an appropriate movie
What makes a movie suitable for kids? First, you have to consider the themes. At a young age, kids will be unable to grasp complex concepts. You might want to choose an animated film or a live-action film that has been made primarily with kids in mind.
Another important point to consider is the running time of the film. Although great films are engrossing and your kid might not notice the passing of time, it is better to err on the side of caution and choose a movie with a shorter running time.
Fortunately, you can check on both in advance using online resources.
Come to the cinema just in time for the screening
If you are an avid moviegoer, most likely, you come into the theater early to watch the trailers for upcoming movies.
However, with a kid in tow, you might want to skip the trailers and come into the cinema a bit later, closer to when the movie is just about to start.
This prevents kids from staying too long inside the movie theater and becoming restless. Plus, they might get startled by the ads and trailers which are usually cut to be fast-paced.
Plan for success
Even your well-laid plans can go awry. That’s inevitable when you add kids to the equation. To reduce the chances of tantrums and other embarrassing situations, you have to plan for success.
Start by choosing the best screening time. Ideally, you should choose a movie that has already been showing for several days, and opt for the first screening. That means that the theater isn’t going to be brimming with people.
Make sure that your kid is well-fed and has had his nap before heading off to the theater.
If possible, have another adult tag along with you. That will make things easier for you if your child decides that he needs to go to the bathroom or doesn’t want to continue watching the movie.
Plan for success, but also prepare to fail. Despite all your best intentions and preparations, there’s no real way to predict whether your child will enjoy his first foray inside the cinema. If things don’t go as planned, don’t hesitate to go out of the theater. There will always be a next time.
Paul Fox is the Director of Roxy Cinemas under Meraas Group/DXB Entertainments. Roxy Cinemas currently has five Dubai locations: The Beach, La Mer, City Walk, Box Park, and Bollywood Parks.