Report – Research 7 & 8
This session was broken into two halves: News, Trust and Truth and Children’s Media and Diversity: What’s Next in Europe?
Research 7: News, Trust & Truth
· Do not dumb news and programming down for children, they are smarter than you think.
· Focus on multi-platform content and social media: children get most of their news from apps.
· Young people in theory are savvy but in practice, the results don’t showcase this.
Do children and young people still trust news sources? This half-hour session explored Florencia Donagaray’s study into children and their perception of the media and fake news.
Florencia’s findings were presented through an assortment of graphs and videos which were a mixture of humour and shock.
The session started with a look at the objectives the study aimed to find:
What kind of messages are we receiving regarding how they relate to news?
Is age a factor to children’s reading and understanding of fake news?
How does trust feature in children and young people’s relationship with news sources?
Children in the study were asked if they were interested in news and their general consumption of news. 300 young people from Manchester, Liverpool, Dumfries and Wrexham were given surveys and 18 focus groups were held. All young people asked were either in Year 5, Year 7 or Year 9.
The videos shown were an insight into the focus groups and it was eye-opening to see how children view news. There were some strong and savvy personalities between the groups but across the board, it was evident that children do care about the world going on around them. Children are now more platform-focused whereas young people/teenagers are more brand/company focused; the teenagers believed that the BBC, the Guardian and Sky were reliable sources and younger children gathered their news mostly from family.
The majority of young people responded to the visual elements in news articles during the focus groups rather than the content itself. The main issue was that children believed that fake news was the over-the-top, ridiculous news, rather than misinformation and bias.
Research 8: Children’s Media and Diversity: What’s Next in Europe?
· Children from all backgrounds and demographics need to be represented on screen.
· Focussing on local stories engages children.
· Kids want a range of shows representing them, not just animation.
How do you show diversity in children’s content, and how can we find ways of making content that has something engaging and entertaining to say about being an informed citizen? Professor Jeanette Steemers explored how we can appeal to the full demographic of children, rather than just those who are UK-born.
The session looked into how to normalise the topic of immigration and educate that all children are just children, no matter what their background may be. The study itself focused on Arab children’s representation in European TV, with a special look at how refugees are shown on screen.
Currently, Arab children rarely see themselves on screen in their home, children shown are mostly bought imports. Furthermore, adults on children’s TV shows are more instructive and the shows tend to be less child-centred.
During this study, Professor Jeanette and colleagues found that children preferred a varied range of genres, from comedy to dramas, and programme forms, from animation to live-action shows, as well as representation of children from all walks of life.
Normalising immigration is an avenue that needs to be explored: children living normal lives, not showing them as victims, reducing fear. By showing diversity on screen, children and adults grow accustomed to people from different walks of life integrating. Focussing on strong local stories, similarities and connections and addressing the gender gap is the best way to convey that all children are the same as well as spark conversations within friendship groups and households.
University of Salford
Freelance Producer and MA Children's TV Graduate
Professor Naomi Sakr
University of Westminster
Professor of Media Policy
Dr Christine Singer
King’s College London
Post-doctoral Research Associate
Professor Jeanette Steemers
King’s College, London
Professor of Culture, Media & Creative Industries
Insight and Innovation Consultant