Does sad and scary news make kids depressed?

When it comes to how the news affects kids, the news isn't good. Think about it: Our children live in a world where news and news headlines are nearly constant. This can cause some extreme reactions -- both positive and negative. According to a 2017 study conducted by Common Sense Media, News and America's Kids: How Young People Perceive and Are Impacted by the News, most kids feel smart and knowledgeable when they watch, read, or hear about the news. But many kids say that the news makes them feel sad or depressed, angry, or afraid.

A few more key findings from the News and America's Kids report suggest parents really can't ignore the impact of the news on kids:

  • Kids feel neglected and misrepresented by the news.
    • Sixty-nine percent say that the news media has no idea about the experiences of people their age.
    • Less than half of children think the news covers issues that matter to them.
  • Kids are extremely skeptical and distrustful of the news media. 
    • Only one in four children puts "a lot" of trust in the information they receive from news organizations. 
  • Kids see racial and gender bias in the news and feel there is a real bias in how children are portrayed. (Learn how to teach kids about bias in the news.)
    • Only 29 percent of children agree that the news treats people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds equally fairly.
    • Only one in three children agrees that the news treats women and men equally fairly.
    • More than two in five children say that children in the news are often associated with crimes, violence, or other problems.

But the report uncovers hopeful information, too:

  • Kids care about the news, and they want to be informed.
  • Most kids access the news and generally feel smarter when they do.
  • Half of all kids say that following the news helps them feel prepared to make a difference in their communities.

Knowing that kids are engaged in the news -- even if it affects them emotionally -- is actually an encouraging sign. It gives parents the opportunity to discuss current events, hear your kids' thoughts and reactions, and share your own wisdom, experience, and values. Learn more about explaining the news to kids. 

The Child Mind Institute contributed to this article. Learn more at

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Kid, 12 years old

No. If your kid does does seem fazed by news, explain it to them and tell them it will be fine.