Media Literacy

Kids See Racial and Gender Bias in the News and Prefer to Get News Through Social Media


Kids value the news, yet a majority surveyed feel neglected and misrepresented by the news. They also see racial and gender bias in the news, and prefer to get their news through social media.

These were some of the findings in a recent report by Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids and their parents thrive in a world of media and technology.

The report, “News and America’s Kids: How Young People Perceive and are Impacted by the News,” surveyed 853 children online between the ages of 10 and 18 between Jan. 10-22, 2017. Common Sense Media used a nationally representative panel, as well as an oversample of African American and Hispanic/Latino children drawn from an opt-in web panel.

The report found that 48 percent of kids age 10-18 said following the news is important to them, and 50 percent said following the news helps them feel prepared to make a difference in their communities.

However, 74 percent said they think the media should show more people their age, rather than grown-ups talking about them. And 69 percent said they think the news media has no idea about the experiences of people their age.

One half of United States kids said when they see nonwhite kids in the news, it’s negative and/or related to crime and violence. African American and Latino kids are more likely to strongly agree that this is the case.

Only one-third of children agree that the news treats women and men equally fairly, and females are less likely (29 percent) to think that the news treats women and men equally fairly.

Kids were more likely to get news “yesterday” from family, teachers and/or friends (63 percent), yet 49 percent said they got news from online media, such as social networking sites, websites or mobile apps. Only 46 percent said they got news from traditional sources, such as television, print and radio.

More children trust news from family than any other source: 66 percent said they trusted news from family “a lot,” while 48 percent said the same for teachers and adults, 25 percent said the same for news organizations and only 17 percent said the same for their friends.

However, children prefer to get their news from social media. Thirty-nine percent said their preferred news source is social media, 36 percent said family, teachers and/or friends, and only 24 percent said traditional media.

The most preferred social media site for news among tweens (ages 10-12) was YouTube (47 percent, followed by Facebook at 37 percent), while the most preferred site among teens )ages 13-18) was Facebook (47 percent).

Sixty-three percent of kids said the news makes them feel afraid, angry and/or sad and depressed.

Fake news continues to be a problem among children: Only 44 percent said they feel they can tell fake news stories from real ones, and 31 percent of kids who shared a news story online during the last six months said they later found out the story was wrong or inaccurate.

To download the full report, visit this Common Sense Media site.

About the Author

Richard Chang is associate editor of THE Journal. He can be reached at [email protected].