How Kids Are Affected By Watching or Reading the News

In today’s society, your children may hear about a catastrophic event on Twitter before you see it on the nightly news. Even though parents may want to shield their kids from certain news stories, it’s important to help them understand what’s going on around the world so they can develop into well-rounded, compassionate adults. But, how does being exposed to so many news stories affect children? What do kids think about what they see?

Watching the news can affect kids’ emotions.

According to a study done by Common Sense Media, nearly two-thirds of children feel afraid, angry, sad, or depressed after watching the news. Younger adolescents are more likely to report feeling afraid than older teens, which could be because they don’t understand much of what they see.

Despite these negative feelings, 70% of children who were surveyed said watching or reading the news makes them feel smarter. If your children feel more confident or empowered after learning about current events, continue to let them watch or read age-appropriate news stories.

It’s difficult for kids to determine what’s real.

Even adults sometimes struggle to determine what’s real and what’s fake news, so it’s no surprise that many kids face the same challenge. In fact, 31% of children who shared a news story online in the last six months later found out that the news story was not true. This highlights the importance of having open conversations with your children about current events so they know what they should and shouldn’t believe. Fake news stories are often designed to alarm people, and the last thing you want is for your child to be worried about something that’s not even real.

Kids trust their families.

This study also revealed that children trust the news that they hear from family members over other sources, including teachers, news organizations, and friends. This further illustrates the importance of communicating with your children about the news.

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Kids don’t feel well represented.

The vast majority of children who were surveyed said that they think the news should make more of an effort to talk about matters that affect kids. In fact, only 42% of kids said that the news covers issues that are important to them.

But, even if the news attempted to cover stories that were relevant to kids, they may not succeed since 70% of kids believe the media has no idea what the life of a tween or teen is really like. African-American teens and tweens were more likely than White and Hispanic tweens and teens to think that the media doesn’t understand them, which could be due to how poorly African-Americans are often portrayed in the news.

Kids need help understanding the news.

It’s clear that kids want to watch the news—especially if it’s about something that is relevant to them—but they may need help understanding it. In fact, 40% of kids admit that the news is complicated and difficult for them to follow. If your kids are eager to consume the news, help them understand what it is they are watching or reading. The younger that they are, the more trouble they may have understanding, so it’s up to you to answer any questions they may have.

The news is everywhere, so even if you want to protect your children from what’s going on in the world, they will be exposed to it whether you want them to be or not. Because of this, it’s important to communicate with your children about what they see. Ask them how a news story made them feel, what their thoughts were, and whether they have any questions. Encouraging them to discuss the news with you will help them develop into intelligent, informed adults.

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