What Do Children Think of The News Media?

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By Lillian Williams

Ever wonder what today’s kids think of the news media–how the news makes them feel, or even whether they trust the news?

A new report commissioned by Common Sense Media finds that kids today—like some adults—have mixed reactions to the news ecosystem.

The report, News and America’s Kids: How Young People Perceive and Are Impacted by the News, finds that children value news but often feel media misrepresents them. Kids have difficulty recognizing fake news, and they perceive racial and gender bias in news reports, the survey found.

The findings are based on an online survey of 853 children age 10–18 from January 10 to January 22.

“The more we know about how kids get news and how the news makes them feel, the more effective we can be in helping them navigate this new, very tumultuous media landscape,” said James P. Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense.

“We need the next generation to be engaged citizens, and consumption of information is a big part of that,” Steyer said. “We all have a responsibility — parents, educators, media companies, and policymakers — to listen to what kids have to say and to take actions that will improve the way they consume news and information in the future.”

The purpose of the study was to examine children’s involvement with news in the following key areas:

• Preferred news sources
• Which social media sites children use to source news
• Level of trust in different information sources
• Perceived accuracy of news from different sources
• Feelings about the news
• Perceived importance of the issue

Top findings are:

  • Kids find news to be a valuable resource. Forty-eight percent say that staying abreast of the news is vital; seventy percent say following the news makes them feel smart and knowledgeable; and half feel as a result they are ready to make a difference.
  • Kids think that the media should do a better job of covering them. Seventy-four percent say the news media should show more people their age, rather than adults talking about them; and only 42 percent think news media cover issues that matter to them.
  • Kids perceive gender and racial bias in the news. Half of kids say that when they see nonwhite kids in the news, it’s negative and/or related to crime and violence. Children also point to what they see as gender bias. Only 34 percent agree that the news treats women and men equally fairly.
  • Kids are often misled by fake news. Only 44 percent agree that they can recognize fake news stories from real ones. And, 31 percent reported sharing a story within the last six months that they later discovered was wrong or inaccurate.
  • Kids trust their teachers and families for news more than any other source, but they prefer to get news from social media. Facebook is the most popular social media site for news and headlines.

Read the entire report here.

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