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NBC News for Universal Kids

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
NBC News for Universal Kids TV Poster Image
Brief newscast encourages kids' media literacy awareness.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Educational Value

Many stories teach viewers basic truths about American government and current news events. Topics of society and culture as well as human interest stories about notable kids and teens are included as well. In some cases, the stories both teach and inspire by showing how young people filled needs with goods or services of their own creation, and encouraging viewers to do the same.

 

Positive Messages

The show presents news and human interest stories without bias or political slant. Some inspire, all inform, and the content is always appropriate for the grade-schooler audience.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Many of the stories' subjects are kids and teens being recognized for entrepreneurship, volunteerism, altruism, or otherwise impressive achievements.

 

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Consumerism

Stories that pertain to businesses, nonprofits, and other work involve some promotion by way of the projects' visibility.

 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that NBC News for Universal Kids is a newscast series geared toward 6- to 12-year-olds that presents stories about culture, current events, and American government, often related to how they influence kids' and teens' lives. Some human interest stories introduce viewers to young people who are making a big difference in their communities and beyond through inventions, volunteerism, and other notable accomplishments. The host makes the content applicable to viewers by posing questions related to the stories to them and by explaining potentially unfamiliar terms like "entrepreneur" and "government shutdown" as they arise. This series makes a concerted effort to deliver information in a fair and unbiased way, but the brief segments don't allow much time to explore weighty topics fully.   

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What's the story?

NBC NEWS FOR UNIVERSAL KIDS delivers news content about American government, culture, and society in a week-in-review format for grade-schoolers. Host Savannah Sellers presents stories that teach kids about the political process and government structure, inspirational and high-achieving kids and teens who are making a difference, elements of culture like holiday events and celebrations, and current events.

 

Is it any good?

Designed to encourage news literacy in kids as young as six years old, this series does a decent job selecting content that will be of interest to its intended audience. As such, these aren't hard-hitting or overly opinionated news stories; rather they're all about cataloging the who, what, where, when, and why and letting viewers make their own calls from there. Even those that delve into hot-button current events like immigration reform and political protest remain mostly hands-off in interpretation, but by condensing complex topics into two-minute presentations, they greatly oversimplify them.

NBC News for Universal Kids's biggest challenge is in filling a gap its young audience probably didn't even know existed. Thanks to the internet, kids and tweens have no shortage of information sources (some better than others, of course). With news, videos, and stories literally at their fingertips, a newscast that preselects its content and presents it in short form might not draw crowds among this media-ultraliterate set. Even so, this series gives parents the opportunity to talk about matters of media and reliable news sources with their kids.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how news is gathered and delivered. How do news organizations prioritize the information they will distribute? Does bias influence that process? If a story isn't reported by a "trusted" news source, can that affect viewers' interpretation of its validity?

  • Does NBC News for Universal Kids teach you things you didn't know before watching it? Is that its goal? What can we learn from stories that are more interesting than they are news-y? How are average people pitching in to better the world? What can you do in the same way?

  • Kids: Where do you get most of your news? Is social media a reliable source? Why or why not? How does having a variety of news sources help keep you better informed?

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TV details

For kids who love news

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