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 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 those stories 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 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.
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 6 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, the series greatly oversimplifies them.
NBC News for Universal Kids' 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 newsy? 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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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.
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