Let’s Talk About It: What Attracts High Schoolers to Children’s Movies?

Media provided by Gazette Media Staff.

With the recent announcement of the new Buzz Lightyear movie, today’s high schoolers are reminded of the good times filled with Toy Story, Frozen, Cars, and more. These movies are often linked to our childhood, and watching them transports us to joy-filled times when things were simpler.  The Grace Gazette conducted an investigation into how teenagers interact with these animated favorites.

Barak L. ‘24 said in an interview with The Gazette that he prefers watching children’s movies now “more than he did when he was a child.” This is in stark contrast with Claire D. ‘24, who said she preferred watching children’s movies as a child “because there was more shock value.”

Whether they feel more connected to the stories now or as a child, high schoolers seem to enjoy these movies all the same. 

Nico P. ‘24 says that the movies’ “light-hearted nature” is his favorite aspect of childish films.

When high schoolers grow past the age of absolute fascination with these animated movies, what keeps them coming back? 

The answer is simple: nostalgia. 

Mr. Colin Todd propping up camera. Media provided by Gazette Media Staff.

Mr. Colin Todd, Grace Church’s Curriculum Coordinator for JK-12 Visual Art, said, “There is a nostalgic comfort in seeing movies that you’ve seen before, or movies that are from your childhood.” 

Nostalgia is the warm feeling that you get when you look back fondly on things in the past. Nico P. ‘24 agreed that the “nostalgia factor” is his favorite aspect of children’s movies.

Nostalgia has a pleasurable effect on our brain that promotes positive emotions. It can encourage social connections and make us feel more comfortable. In a study published in 2012, researchers concluded that participants who were experiencing nostalgia said that they felt “more loved and protected.” The study also found that participants who were experiencing nostalgia were more “competent socially.” Participants felt that they were better able to connect with people when experiencing nostalgia than when they weren’t experiencing nostalgia. (JCR 2011) This feeling that nostalgia engenders makes us much more comfortable and social.

The upcoming Buzz Lightyear movie, Lightyear, raises the question as to whether high schoolers would enjoy this new Pixar movie without the nostalgic element, due to this being a new movie where nostalgia can’t come into play. 

“I would go to the movie theaters because children’s movies are fun,” said Nico P. The nostalgia of the movie doesn’t always seem to matter because the quality of the movie would still give students an enjoyable experience.

It seems that high schoolers continue to enjoy children’s movies so much that they look forward to watching children’s movies in theaters. When you see a certain children’s movie for the first time — the animation, the voice acting, and more — certain nostalgic emotions leap into the forefront of your mind and remind you of that innocent joy that was a memorable part of your childhood. 

In conclusion, high school students enjoy interacting with children’s movies even if the films don’t initially seem to appeal to an older audience. Whether it be for the pure enjoyment of seeing the movie or the nostalgic factor, high schoolers certainly do seem to enjoy these children’s movies.