How Young People Are Impacted by the News

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By Tracey Dowdy

When I was a child, news was something my parents watched after dinner or read in the newspaper. From my perspective, it had nothing to do with me or my interests. Oh, how things have changed. With easy access to the Internet and social media, the ways kids access and perceive news has been completely transformed.

Common Sense Media recently released a study that looks at how kids engage with the news. They created an online survey that polled 853 children age 10–18, asking questions about how kids access news, their awareness of fake vs. real news, and their level of trust for various media sources.

The purpose of the study was to get a better understanding of how children access and process news. “We want our children to be good citizens, and to the extent that being a good citizen requires an accurate awareness of what’s happening in the world and a desire to be well-informed, it is critical to understand children’s relationship with the news.” Michael Robb, Director of Research, Common Sense Media.

Their key findings were as follows:

  • Kids value the news. Most access it and care about it, and overall they feel smarter when they’re informed.
  • Kids feel neglected and misrepresented. They don’t feel like the media covers what’s important to them, and they feel misrepresented when they are covered.
  • Kids see racial and gender bias in the news. Of particular note is the fact that half of U.S. kids say that when they see non-white kids in the news, it’s negative and/or related to crime and violence.
  • What kids are seeing scares them and makes them feel depressed.
  • Kids also often are fooled by fake news. This may be why many are extremely skeptical and distrustful of the news media.
  • Kids trust their families and teachers for news more than any other source, but they prefer to get news from social media.

They found that most kids get their news through their family members (45%), followed by social media (38%) television (37%) and their teachers (35%).

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One of the more interesting finds was the number of kids who have confidence in traditional media outlets. Only 25% of kids say they put “a lot” of trust in what they see coming from news organizations – the same amount of trust they put in information coming from their friends.

Parents can access the full report by creating a profile on the Common Sense website.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

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