By Tracey Dowdy
Crossing the Atlantic once meant spending weeks onboard a ship; now we can be dipping our toes in the Mediterranean in a matter of hours. Geography and limited technology meant we had to wait for news to come through a letter. With the advent of radio the world got a little smaller and then smaller again with the arrival of TV.
Today, with the entire world before us on our laptops and smartphones, the world seems a much smaller place indeed. Events as important as the Ebola outbreak or the conflict in Syria, and even something as mundane as the score of last night’s game, are just a few clicks away.
When I was a kid and my parents turned on the news, I took that as my cue to go read a book. The news was dead boring to me and I had little interest until I was an adult. In contrast, today’s kids are global citizens. They have a much better awareness of world events and, because the world is a smaller place, it’s more important that they have an understanding of the world around them.
These sites make the news accessible, while being mindful of what’s appropriate for different age groups. They cover everything from politics to technology, providing a valuable resource for keeping kids informed. As a bonus, stories are broken down to make it easier to understand complex issues, something that often comes in handy for adults as well!
News-O-Matic is a newspaper style website for kids 7-10 years old. Every day five stories are written by experts and screened by a child psychologist to ensure age-appropriate content. Kids can choose from stories, puzzles or a word game, and the “Read to Me” feature is ideal for kids who struggle with auditory processing or verbal skills. Enabling location services allows the silly but entertaining distance tracker to measure the distance between your location and the location of the story. For example, the distance from your house to the Vatican can be measured in pope hats. (Ages 7+)
Scholastic Kids Press Corps features news stories from a group of 50 kids ages 9-14. Kids apply for the position and are chosen based on their reporting and writing skills. Stories, videos and blogs cover a variety of topics from current events to pop culture or movie and book reviews. Users can choose content by subject or by reading level and because it’s written by kids it’s always at their level. (Ages 9+)
Tween Tribune is focused on getting kids to follow the news. Content covers current events as well as pop culture and is divided into different sections by age group as well as a section dedicated to Spanish content. This isn’t a hard-hitting news site. The focus is on human interest stories, technology, fashion, health, and sports. (Ages 10+)
Nick News features content from “Nick News with Linda Ellerbee.” Story content ranges from lighter topics like The National Spelling Bee to heavier subjects like the conflict in the Middle East. All subjects are explored with the audience in mind, so even difficult stories are covered in a manner that presents facts without overwhelming or frightening users. (Ages 11+)
The Learning Network takes stories from the New York Times and breaks them down for kids. Readers get stories, quizzes and crossword puzzles, learn a word of the day, and go back in time with “On This Day,” which features front page stories from the past. Parents should be aware content is from the Times so tough subjects like war and poverty are frankly discussed. (Ages 12+)
This is by no means an exhaustive list. TIME magazine, NBC News and CNN all feature news geared to kids and teens. The most important thing is to get your kids reading. Use the content on these sites to start a conversation and teach your children critical thinking skills. Help them to see themselves as global citizens so they can understand the world from a broader perspective.
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.