A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Above the Noise exposes the tricks behind fake news and explains the skills required to report news accurately. This YouTube series created by PBS affiliate KQED stars two college-age hosts, and includes a real-life teen advisory board based in San Francisco. Above the Noise presents some serious media-critical topics -- like data manipulation, false science claims, and overblown health promises -- with lots of graphics and often some humor, too. The approximately five-minute long episodes include explanations about information used in news gathering (such as the definition of a "peer-reviewed study") so teens can learn how to spot solid or flimsy information used in news, as well as specific, fact-checked information about the news topic at hand. Teens are encouraged to post comments that may be addressed in follow-up video discussions.
What's the story?
At the beginning of each short video, ABOVE THE NOISE lays out a news-related topic or question. Then one of the hosts leads viewers through the issue with a series of graphics, news clips, and verbal explainers. At the end of the video, the host encourages comments and Above the Noise staff responds directly to some comments. Watch follow-up video conversations about the same topic in a subsequent episode. Some recent video topics include: "Identifying Signs of Misleading Science Reporting," "Is Your Social Status Making You Sick?" and "Should Energy Drinks Be Banned for Kids?"
Is it any good?
This educational video series empowers teens to develop critical eyes and ears for news. The hosts of Above the Noise model how teens can be thoughtful news consumers with healthy skepticism and informed critical thinking. Teens can learn information they can use when they hear questionable claims and stories in the news and -- better still -- they're often quirky and funny, which helps kids remember them the next time they see or hear suspicious news.
What really sets this show apart and raises the bar set by other teen-oriented news shows of the past is teen engagement. In addition to the real-life advisory board, each episode encourages viewer comments, which are considered for the follow-up conversation episode. In those follow-up conversations, the hosts talk about how they reported the story and discuss the teen questions. These conversations are an excellent way to continue teen viewers' engagement, and they give teens real opportunities to get involved. Above the Noise is a terrific resource for teachers to use regularly in the classroom, or for parents to point teens toward when they have questions about a current news topic, or if a fake news story has duped them. The information presented on Above The Noise can be valuable for everyone -- even adults.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why a show like Above the Noise is valuable. If a teacher plays the show in class teens will likely find it relevant to learning about current events. But why should your teen watch this series anyway, even if it's not shown at school? Talk about media manipulation of teens (and adults) and the importance of being an informed citizen and consumer.
Encourage your kid to post comments after watching the videos and watch the post-video discussions.
Model healthy news consumption for your teen. Talk to them about a story you saw and questioned. How did you discern whether it was real or fake news? Did you check with a second source? What are your trusted sources for accurate news and why?
For kids who love news
Our editors recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.