4 Eye-Opening Documentaries for Your Tween

Remember when the extent of your life problems was planning your Thursday outfit, or lying to your mom about going to your friend’s house to do a group project when what you’re really there for was the black box cable, which subsequently scarred your corneas for life?

Being young and sneaky is fun and all, but the real world is scary and can swallow you up whole if you’re clueless and unprepared. As a parent, you’re going to want to educate your tweens on real problems and issues. Besides, in a few years that tween will turn into a teen, and the last thing you want is a selfish, narrow-minded teenager you have no control over because you didn’t bother planting any seeds.

Pop in one of these documentaries, before it’s too late:

A Place at the Table

2012, PG

We’ve heard it before; we’ve seen the billboards – 1 in 6 Americans is hungry. You probably pass these people every day and are unaware of their hunger situation. But how is the obesity epidemic skyrocketing, yet hunger issues are getting worse by the day?

In A Place at the Table, food activists come together to spread awareness about hunger and food insecurity in America. Actor/founder of the End Hunger Network, Jeff Bridges, along with Top Chef host, Tom Colicchio, educate viewers that food shortage is not the culprit of hunger in the U.S.

One shocking fact mentioned in the documentary is that Mississippi has both the highest rate of obesity, as well as the highest rate of food insecurity– or uncertainty of the source of one’s next meal. One out of four children are food insecure, and many Americans can’t afford their next meal. And when the next meal does come, it’s often in the form of highly processed junk food filled with empty calories, leaving one feeling hungry soon after. This is the sad truth in a world where donuts and candy are cheaper than apples and bananas.

A Place at the Table is a beautiful and inspiring film– young viewers will feel sympathy for the hungry children, and learn to not take a single meal for granted.

The Dream Is Now

2013, NR

This short documentary (only 31 minutes) aims to teach viewers about young people in America without proper/legal documentation. These illegal immigrants reside in our country without a path to citizenship– they can’t legally work, vote, drive, get an ID, or pay resident tuition in college, among other things. The flick points out that while yes, these people are breaking the law, most of them didn’t choose to come here– usually, their parents brought them to the country at a very young age, and raised them as Americans.

Although the DREAM Act failed, President Obama allowed some children of undocumented workers to stay in the country– mostly those under 30 years of age that were currently in school, the military, or have graduated. However, they were still not granted proper permanent legal status. The documentary points out the advantages of allowing these young people to stay in the country: Adding $329B to the U.S. economy, as well as creating 1.4M new jobs by 2030.

A great flick for a tweens and adults, the documentary puts our own liberties and freedoms into perspective as we gain an understanding and sense of sympathy for those struggling to gain citizenship and truly live freely in the only country they’ve ever called home.


2011, PG-13

Bullying is a very common issue– perhaps you’ve been bullied, you were the bully, or maybe you’ve witnessed a bullying situation.

Bully goes in depth depicting both sides of the bullying equation. Why does a person bully another? Often, they have personal issues and put others down in order to feel better about themselves. Why don’t the kids being bullied tell anyone what’s really happening to them? In most cases, they’re embarrassed or scared.

Check out this documentary as it follows several children who are victims of bullying, and hear from parents and teachers who didn’t take the situation as seriously as they should have… and find out what happens when bullying goes too far. This film will encourage young viewers to speak up when they’re victims of bullying/witness a bullying situation, and at the same time, to never ever be someone else’s bully.

Waste Land

2010, NR

This documentary follows artist Vik Muniz as he travels from his home in Brooklyn to his native Brazil, only to arrive at the world’s largest garbage dump called Jardim Gramacho. Located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, viewers will meet catadores, or those who pick recycled material in hopes to improve their life in their community.

The flick shows viewers the power of art and the human spirit, as well as a lesson in being eco-friendly. Viewers can take a step back and think about their own habits of consumption, waste, and trash. Teaching youngsters the importance of recycling, as well as awareness of the huge environmental impact of trash, are important concepts to learn at a young age.

By creating art out of trash, the money from the artworks was given back to the catadores, as well as the Association of Pickers of Jardim Gramacho (ACAMJG). This documentary hits the nail on the head when it comes to teaching the importance and power of art– the way it brings people together, and how it can have a huge impact in our lives.

Check out this documentary and get in touch with some amazing role models, as well as beautiful and inspiring art. A great flick for tweens and adults, this documentary teaches the viewers that art can be found anywhere – even where you’d least expect it. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, right?

Which one of these documentaries will you be watching with your teen? Got any suggestions for other eye-opening films? Share with us!

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Tags : films   documentary   

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