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When videos on the Internet replace the dictionary

3 minutes reading time
6-17 years
© photothek.net

They sit together with the family and talk. The conversation comes around to a particular topic and the question of what something means or how something works. Your child’s first reach goes to the smartphone. At YouTube the corresponding search query is entered and a suitable explanatory video is played that (hopefully) answers the question.

YouTube and explainer films are very popular with children and young people. Questions for which we used to reach for the encyclopedia are now answered with YouTube and similar video portals. Children and young people use them for everyday questions as well as to help with schoolwork. Because the selection of explainer videos on the web is huge. These are films in which very different facts and topics are dealt with briefly and concisely and abstract relationships are explained. The range of topics goes from beauty to cooking, from music to social or internet topics and much more.

What makes explainer videos so special?

Perhaps you remember this from your school days: films on historical events or similar are shown in class. These educational videos were professionally produced to be used in schools. In contrast, explainer videos are mostly produced by non-professionals themselves. They are aimed at a specific target group. Typical is a clear and simple, sometimes also very personal language in such videos. Through self-drawn pictures, photos and animations, difficult topics are presented in a clear and entertaining way. They are not explained matter-of-factly as in instructional videos, but a short story is told. Together with music, the audience is particularly addressed. The assumption is that this makes it easier to understand and remember what is shown. In addition, you can watch the videos online at any time, regardless of location and as often as you like, and pause them in between. Explainer videos are usually only a few minutes long.

Explainer videos in school

Meanwhile, such explanatory films are also used in the classroom. Some teachers even shoot them themselves and share them with the class. Students can then watch the video at home at their own pace and as many times as needed. Thus, they learn the material themselves with the help of the explainer video. There is more time in class to ask questions about it and practice the new material.

When it comes to using (third-party) explainer videos from the Internet for homework, there are a few things to keep in mind. As with other content on the web, not all videos are good and right. Many films treat the subject only very superficially. So it makes sense to read even more in-depth texts on this. To assess in advance how good a video is, you can browse the channel to see if the person has made other explainer videos and therefore has experience. Plus, it’s always good to watch one or two other videos on a topic.

You learn the most when you produce an explainer video yourself. This is now also done in school. You have to think about how to make a topic short and interesting for the audience. It is very motivating for children and young people to watch their own video with the whole class at the end. During production, they also learn to work in a team and in an organized manner and train their technical know-how. A good tutorial for kids is here.

What should parents pay attention to?

The easiest way to access explainer videos is to click on YouTube – but the platform is still unsuitable, especially for (younger) children. YouTube offers content for all ages, so it wouldn’t be uncommon for your child to accidentally come across something that initially looked appropriate, but is questionable for their age. Explain this to your child and search for websites with video content specifically for children, for example, using children’s search engines. If you want to be on the safe side, watch the explainer videos together with your child – that way you might learn something too!

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