When I was a tween, I got most of my current events knowledge from snippets of adult conversations I overheard plus a few minutes of TV news. (As I got older, I was also known to scan the front page of the local newspaper and read a couple of my favourite columnists because I was a nerdy future journalist and that’s the sort of thing a nerdy future journalist does.)
Having a solid grasp on current events didn’t seem like such a big deal back then—probably because it wasn’t. But now, well, we’re leaving a mess for our kids and they’re going to have to get crackin’ on fixing our political, social and environmental mistakes approximately the second they turn 18, so any head start we can give them now, the better.
Time for Kids
Time for Kids is a great place to start. You can also access articles, which are broken down by grade level, on the website. They cover topics like technology, health, wildlife, business, politics and the environment.
Andrea Delbanco, the publication’s editor in chief, told The Atlantic that the magazine prides itself on being relentlessly unbiased, as well as accurate and age-appropriate:
“One of the things we know absolutely is that if we talked down to our readers, we’d lose them. We are trying to gain their respect,” Delbanco said, “by treating them like future citizens of the world.”
This daily news app provides five news articles each weekday with photos, videos, maps, graphics and other interactive content. The articles are intended for kids ages 6 to 14, written at three different reading levels, and are all reviewed by a child psychologist to ensure the content is appropriate. There is also an audio playback option.
Topics include world news, science, sports, technology, arts and entertainment. Readers can react to the news with words or drawings, and they can ask questions or vote on certain topics. There is a free trial period and then you can subscribe for $US3.99 a month, or an annual subscription for $US34.99.
NewsForKids.net covers news, science, sports and art and posts regular news roundups with short, easily digestible summaries of the top news stories. Users do not need to register on the site and cannot interact with each other.
The ad version of the site is free, but you can choose the ad-free experience for around $4 per month. The site does link to its sources, which Common Sense Media describes as “mostly legit” but “some a bit dubious” and cautions parents that they “should be aware some of these external sites may contain ads or content geared toward adults.”
You can set parental controls to show content appropriate for ages 8 and up, 10 and up, 12 and up, or “young adult.”
Behind The News (BTN)
If you prefer your kids to get their news through an Australian filter, it's hard to look past BTN; AKA the ABC's dedicated news programme for kids aged 8–13. It publishes a handful of stories on its website each week covering world events and important national issues. Access is free, although you're technically paying for it via taxes we guess.
The DOGO News website offers articles about current events, science, social studies, the environment and sports — plus a “fun” section for randomness that kids (or adults) might find interesting. Such as this video of an octopus changing colours while it sleeps.
The site also has a good search function, which could be helpful for a child who is working on a school project about, say, the planet Mars. Kids can register on the site with a nickname to create a custom avatar, bookmark favourite pieces and comment on articles. (Kids under age 13 are required to enter a parent’s email address so you can monitor or cancel the account.)
Scholastic Kids Press
For kids who’d rather get news from their peers, rather than a bunch of stuffy grown-ups, Scholastic Kids Press is a good option. Fifty kids, ages 10-14, are selected every year for Scholastic Kids Press to report on news that matters most to them. The kid reporters cover a range of topics, including politics, entertainment, the environment and sports, and post articles, blogs, photos and videos regularly to the news site.
It’s great to introduce your kids to news that is age-appropriate for them, but even if they aren’t interested in it right now, let them see you consuming news from reputable sources — and fact-checking when necessary. You can model for them what being a responsible consumer of media looks like.