Common Sense has just released new research on Kids and News, in a report titled News and America’s Kids: How Young People Perceive and Are Impacted by the News. The report is designed for parents, teachers, and policymakers support kids in a 21st-century world, where finding, identifying, evaluating, and using information effectively will be critical.
Here are the main findings – and you can read the report on the Common Sense site here.
Kids value the news. About half of kids say that following the news is important to them, and more than two-thirds say that consuming news makes them feel smart and knowledgeable. Half of the children surveyed feel that following the news helps them feel prepared to make a difference in their communities. Learn how to talk to kids about the news.
Kids feel neglected and misrepresented. Nearly three quarters of surveyed kids think that the media should show more people their age, rather than grown-ups talking about them. Additionally, 69 percent say that the news media has no idea about the experiences of people their age, and less than half think the news covers issues that matter to them.
Kids see racial and gender bias in the news. Half of children agree with the statement “Whenever I see an African-American or Latino person in the news, they’re usually involved in crimes, violence, or other problems.” And only one in three kids agrees that the news treats women and men equally fairly.
What kids are seeing scares them and makes them feel depressed. Content can be disturbing, causing most kids to feel afraid, angry, and/or sad or depressed. Tweens are more likely than teens to say that the news makes them feel afraid.
Kids also often are fooled by fake news. Less than half of children agree that they can tell fake news stories from real ones. Experiences with fake news may be a reason that only one in four kids puts “a lot” of trust in the information they receive from news organizations. Find out how to help kids spot fake news.
Kids trust family for news (but still prefer to get it from social media). Sixty-six percent say they trust the news they hear from family “a lot,” with teachers being the second-most-trusted source. However, when asked to select their preferred news source, online news sources win out.
These findings speak to the importance of supporting tweens’ and teens’ media-literacy skills — the critical thinking needed to judge the value of information. In the short term, that means that when kids come across a suspicious news story on Facebook, they need to know how to interpret the information and whether it’s worth sharing. In the long term, that means teaching them to question what they see, hear, and interact with to become not only good citizens but good digital citizens. Common Sense has a number of resources to help families develop the tools they need to thrive as 21st-century citizens. And since the No. 1 place kids hear about news is from the adults in their lives, we need to model how to consume news, encourage kids to think critically about sources, and discuss the news with the children in our lives.
Findings written by Mike Robb/Director of Research for Common Sense