Children’s Educational TV Falls Short on Climate Change
Climate change touches every part of American lives. Why aren’t educational TV shows addressing it more?
Are children too young to talk to about climate change? Some environmental educators say yes.
But children are hearing about it from the media, from parents and siblings, and from friends at school and elsewhere. And data suggest many are growing increasingly concerned.
In their 2015 review of the literature on young people and climate change, Corner et al. report that climate change is a major cause of concern and in some cases is “associated with feelings of anxiety, stress, and despair.” The American Psychological Association warns that children can be overwhelmed by its implications.
As a parent of two young children, I find these kinds of conclusions disturbing. And as an educational consultant on television programs, I’m interested in how television can be a catalyst for helping children navigate this issue. After all, television remains a leading source of informal education. It’s also a promising vehicle for climate change communication as it can place the issue in an entertaining and informal context, while leveraging the power of visuals. Applying the broadcast industry’s best practices in combination with a growing understanding of how to communicate climate change with young people can help foster appropriate communications that help children understand what climate change is; encourage them to share their questions and concerns; and leave them feeling empowered and hopeful about the future.
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