How to Talk to Kids About the 2016 Election

Little do we know, we are bringing up the next generation of voters. So how do you help young children and teenagers understand and navigate the current political climate, especially if you want to get them involved early?

Youngsters today turn to social media and the internet for news, even when they’re not looking for it. Common Sense Media reports that a study by the University of Chicago showed people between the ages of 15–25 get news once per week from family and friends through Twitter or Facebook.

Unfortunately, though, young people can’t always tell what’s spin and what’s fact.  Case in point: Candidates and talking heads from both sides of the political aisle use their social media platforms to turn a news headline to their advantage and/or pummel their rivals.

This might be why the University of Chicago study also declared: “Youth must figure out how to judge the validity of online data and how to discover different perspectives on shifted issues.”

The media assumes a colossal part in our nation’s political procedure. What’s more, with the all day, every day news cycle, those impacts are amplified. So it’s important to meet kids where they are when it comes to helping them understand the events of the world.

For Young Kids

Seek out age-appropriate news sources. Common Sense Media suggests HTE Kids NewsTime for Kids, and Scholastic Kids Press Corps.

Additionally, read kid-friendly books that can teach kids about politics and the processes.  “Check out Bad Kitty for President, which does a surprisingly good job of explaining the U.S. political system,” writesRegan McMahon.

For Teenagers

Around high school, it’s essential to participate in the news cycle right alongside your kids.

Writes McMahon:

“Compare the media coverage on different shows and networks. Do reporters, news anchors, and opinion shows spend too much time on distractions that heat up the news cycle rather than on the real issues facing our country? Check the credibility of candidates’ claims at the nonpartisan site “

Teens certainly have enough experience to grasp the political landscape, so make sure you don’t underestimate their ability to keep up and stay involved. There are new events making headlines everyday, and our job as a country is to make sure we’re raising concerned, politically literate, and engaged citizens who care about the present and future of the country.


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