The text came in the middle of the day. I checked my phone, expecting to see the usual: A request that I pick up yogurt when I went to the grocery store, a reminder from my teen that they were …
The text came in the middle of the day. I checked my phone, expecting to see the usual: A request that I pick up yogurt when I went to the grocery store, a reminder from my teen that they were working in the evening .. any of the dozens of bits of minutiae of life carried through the air to me on a daily basis.
Instead it was a commentary on a trial decision reached in a court case more than 800 miles away.
My teen, in the middle of a school day, was taking the time to pay attention to and care about the news.
What they said in the text doesn’t matter. America is clearly divided on the results of the Kyle Rittenhouse case.
What matters is that they said it at all, that they were both informed about of-the-minute national news and that they felt armed with enough information to form an opinion.
That they cared ...
As a teenager, news was hard to come by, not least because I lived in one of our county’s many dead zones for cable television access – dead zones that still exist more than two and a half decades later. Sometimes teachers would allow us to watch major events on the television in their classroom. That’s how I saw the OJ verdict as it came across to millions of Americans and saw Newt Gingrich chosen as speaker of the house. I’m sure there were a few other moments like that, but what’s most memorable was how little news was talked about among the teenage set.
Reading the newspaper in the school library was for checking up on rival sports teams and perhaps checking stocks for an economics project. That was about it.
But a Common Sense Media poll conducted in 2019 found some 78 percent of today’s teens say it’s important to follow current events. Compare that to this statistic: in the 1990s, only 33 percent of 10th-graders said they read a newspaper almost every day.
Clearly access to smartphones has changed the landscape entirely. Kids can pull up the news anywhere any time.
Still, it takes more than simply seeing the news for kids to have opinions about it, for kids to care.
Whatever is being said about this current generation — and there’s plenty — it can’t be said that they’re apathetic.
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