The Week Junior's annual survey of about 700 American children ages 8-14 found that an overwhelming number of them talk about current affairs, with 84% discussing the news at least once a week and 25% discussing it daily. When asked to reflect on their feelings about learning or discussing current events, 44% said they were curious about learning more about a particular topic, and 43% said they were worried about the future. One in six said they worried about how climate change will affect their adult lives often.
Gen Alpha children are more "informed, engaged, and involved" than their parents, teachers, and other adults may realize, said Andrea Barbalich, editor-in-chief of The Week Junior. "In turn, it's vital for adults to engage with kids about current events and to ensure that what they learn is accurate and age-appropriate." The adults in their lives have a "prime opportunity to teach kids about civic engagement,” Barbalich added. This generation is "passionate about helping others," and they "want to speak up and take action when it comes to issues they care about.”
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When asked to select up to three top desires for the world, the list included finding cures for diseases (40%), reducing world hunger (35%), and protecting people from gun violence (33%). Regarding the top issues kids want elected officials to focus on, 40% selected protecting people from gun violence, with solving food insecurity in a close second at 39%. Kids are also concerned about rising prices, and 36% said elected officials should work on managing inflation to reduce the price of goods. Climate change was a top issue for 35% of the kids, who want officials to make protecting air, water, and wildlife and reducing climate change more of a priority.
In terms of education, kids have broader issues on their minds than simply managing their schoolwork. When asked to select their top three concerns, 47% said bullying was an issue, followed by protecting schools from intruders at 44%. Over a third said ensuring all students are treated equally, regardless of race, gender, or other factors, was a priority, and 27% worried about managing their tests and homework. And while a record number of book bans have spread across the country's public schools and local libraries recently, the bans may have the opposite effect. The poll revealed that 59% of kids are more interested in reading a book if it makes headlines for being banned, 6% are less interested, and 35% feel indifferent.
These well-informed kids are keen to express their concerns and share their views on what's happening in the world. A whopping 82% of kids believe they should have a say on issues that affect them, and 74% are not afraid to express their opinions if they disagree. They also appear overwhelmingly optimistic about their capabilities to spark change, with 71% believing they can make a difference in the world.
YouGov surveyed 702 children between the ages of 8 and 14 from Aug. 25 to Sept. 7, 2023. The survey was conducted online. The figures have been weighted and represent all U.S. children between the ages of 8 and 14.
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