By Kahanikaar Sudhanshu Rai
We live in an era of technological advancement and evolution, which has resulted in digitalisation of even the oldest forms of art around us. Evidently, the art of storytelling has also not remained untouched and at present there’s a plethora of apps catering or enabling digital storytelling. To understand in simple words, digital storytelling is using computer-based tools to tell stories, wherein the traditional art is aided by varied multimedia options such as illustrations, animation, graphics, audio and video.
But remaining at the core of it is storytelling, an art that has survived the test of time. Be it digital or non-digital, the basic premise of storytelling is that everything is imagination. Children are narrated stories to give wings to their imaginations and thereby enhance their thought process. It’s through storytelling that the minds of the little ones are equipped to understand things in an effective manner and also to relate to new happenings/places that they have never seen or experienced.
Coming back to digital storytelling, there are three dimensions or aspects of the concept – only audio, only visual and audio-visual.
The most effective and recommended form among these is audio storytelling, where voice plays the most crucial role. This format is placed higher on the pedestal because it gives the biggest boost to the imagination of kids. When they listen to the story, for instance, one of a faraway snow-clad land with giant creatures, there is no boundary to their imagination. They can shape the characters and premise of the story in whichever way they want, even beyond the realms of reality. In the long run, this practice of letting a kid’s imagination run wild enhances creative thinking.
Ambience too plays a key role in this regard. Digital tools can enhance the experience for listeners of a story by creating the right ambience in accordance with a story. The sound of a seashore can help the kids relate better with a story based in a coastal area and similarly, appropriate background score can create the right ambience for a mystery story.
But when the audio is equipped with pictures/visuals, they sort of restrict the imagination. In this case, kids do not shape the characters they come across in the story, but restrict their thought process to whatever they see in the pictures or videos. Now some may argue that visuals help kids get a defined line of things mentioned in a story, but as mentioned earlier, this might restrict their processing and keep their imagination confined to the visual before them. So to make things more streamlined, it is suggested that kids are first acquainted with the audio format and later to the other formats.
We need to realise that even scientists would have relied on their imagination before any discovery or invention. They must have thought that if birds could fly, there might be some way to make humans fly too, and this would have most possibly constituted the basis of Wright brothers inventing an aircraft.
Therefore, if used judiciously and in an effective manner, digital storytelling can help kids come of age, possess a developed thought process and help them become future leaders or contribute towards the future in more ways than one.
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