by Marsha Rakestraw

Especially these days when our youth begin drinking in technology about the same time they start breastfeeding, images and video are important tools for sharing information with kids and encouraging them to think critically about important issues.

But it can be difficult to find good sources of video on humane issues that are quickly available and have that all-important element: they’re free.

Here are 12 useful sources:

1.  Documentary Heaven
A collection of documentaries on a variety of topics, including environment, health, politics, society and more.

2.  Films for Action
Posts documentaries, short films, video talks and more on a variety of social change issues. Users can add their own content, as well.

3.  Free
More than 100 documentaries on a variety of social change issues.

4.  Global Oneness Project
Offers the stories, challenges and triumphs of changemakers and citizens around the world as a springboard for positive change.

5.  KarmaTube
A collection of videos and video clips that are meant to inspire positive action.

6.  New York Times Documentaries
Offers short films on a variety of current events issues.

7.  PBS
PBS has great documentaries and films on relevant topics. When full episodes aren’t available, clips often are.

8.  Snag Films
Snag has a variety of movies and TV shows (including documentaries) available for free. Many are older and/or less well-known.

9.  Sociological Cinema 
Features and analyzes videos and other multimedia through a lens of various social issues. Searchable by topic.

Sample talks and performances from hundreds of thought leaders and changemakers.

11.  What’s the Big Idea
Seeks to introduce middle-school students to philosophical (moral and ethical) concepts through film and discussion. The website offers film clips, discussion questions and follow-up activities on topics such as bullying, friendship, lying, peer pressure, environmental ethics and animal welfare.

12.  YouTube 
Yes, it’s the ubiquitous site that contains a lot of nonsense, but you can also search for videos on important global issues, from slavery to sustainability to sentience in animals.

And remember, your local public library often has great videos to see and share.

If you’re an educator, you can often show such films for educational purposes under the fair use portion of copyright law (especially if you only show clips), but if you’re an individual or part of a group, you need to acquire public performance rights (which often cost money) to show the film publicly.

Still, you can always invite a few friends over for a great night of movies and discussion.

Remember that as with any resource your share with students (or others), it’s important that you verify that the film’s information is accurate and credible (as well as age-appropriate).


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