Even if they’re not watching the nightly news, kids today are likely just as bombarded with information about the upcoming election season as adults. Whether through social media or even what their friends are saying at school, those messages can be confusing and difficult to wade through. Parents can provide safe places for conversation and education to help kids feel part of and informed about election season, as is appropriate developmentally. Use these tips to get kids engaged:
- Start with family conversations, first asking your kids open-ended questions about their opinions on the issues and candidates.
- Seek out kid-friendly news for younger kids, or watch the news together with older kids, followed by family discussions.
- Read kid-friendly books about U.S. politics and discuss the election process.
- Ask your kids which national and societal issues they are most interested in. Research candidates’ stances on issues important to your child.
- Talk about political ads kids see on TV or social media. Discuss the claims made, how the ad is used to persuade voters and why negative ads are used.
- Watch political debates together. Compare media coverage through varied outlets and discuss why they differ. Check the credibility of candidates’ claims.
- Talk about candidates’ social media platforms and posts. Ask your child which they are drawn to and why.
- Discuss the mudslinging and fear-mongering that can accompany any election. Discuss how to determine when candidates are seeking to appeal to voter emotions versus discussing policy.
Help your kids become political fact finders! Just because kids today are adept at learning the world of social media doesn’t mean they also know how to discern fact from fiction. With many kids (and adults too!) getting their news only from social media, it’s imperative to teach them to be critical thinkers who can sniff out a bad source. Families can work together this political season and beyond to find the truth together.