As a person who values civic participation through, among other things, vigilant and vigorous news consumption, the growing number of news web sites for children seems like a good thing. Here’s the problem: Just because something seems good intuitively doesn’t mean that it is good. We simply do not know what effect sites such as Scholastic News Zone or TIME for Kids actually have on children. Any positive statement about building media literacy or political engagement should be taken as mere assertion.
None of what I just said should be interpreted to mean that these sites are bad for children. They may turn out to be just what our country needs to turn the tide back toward civic participation from the low ebb at which we find it today. A week from today classes begin at Park University. A week from today I again will be disappointed to discover that most of my students have little understanding of, or interest in, anything civic, political, or journalistic.