How Do We Form Political Habits and Views?
The way children are raised to consume news has a lasting and lingering effect.
Assistant professor Chance York, Ph.D., of Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication (JMC), is the co-author of a chapter in “Political Socialization in a Media-Saturated World.” The collection of studies explores – from many angles, including family, media, peers and school – how children today form political values.
York’s research, in collaboration with Roseanne Scholl (formerly of Louisiana State University) illustrates that children whose parents expose them to news and talk to them about current events at a young age, are more likely to vote when they reach young adulthood and to continue reading and consuming news.
“It’s not necessarily the case that young people are going into the voting booth, remembering an interaction with Mom and Dad,” York said. “You’re getting socialized to think about news, who the candidates are, what the issues are, early. And that carries way farther down the road. Those early interactions with parents, peers and schools – those matter.”
Newspapers and other media networks should take note, York said. Some have tried to target college-aged audiences through flashy websites and apps, but engagement with youth needs to start earlier than that.
“If you want to have a survivable news industry, you really do have to get a younger generation interested in consuming news products,” he said. “You do that not at a college level. You do that in childhood and adolescence.”
He cited Nickelodeon programming like “Nick News” and “Kids Pick the President” as examples of what networks can strive for.
“Make sure parents are talking to their kids about current events and news, and make sure kids are bringing current events and news items to their parents,” he said. “Those interactions not only get kids invested later in life, but those also lead to great democratic outcomes, like voting.”