Should children aged 10 to 14 be introduced to the current affairs? Are they ready to be exposed to the grimmer side of the world? Are we parents prepared to have our pre-teens moulded in their thought process?

That’s food for thought…

Like medicine, I think we should introduce our children to what is happening around the world in doses appropriate to their age group. 10 to 14 years old seem to be a pretty decent window to do that.  At this age, they have the capacity to understand the world and the capacity to be compassionate. They are also at the age where they begin to experiment and assert their own opinions and thoughts, and it is a rich ground for seeding and grooming.

At a recent parent-teacher meeting, a subject-level teacher shared that we should watch more “newsy” programs to support their language learning. So this week, we began a “mandatory TV watching with mom” in the evening between 630pm and 730pm to catch the Mandarin version of Lion City Today (chn 8).

One programme spoke of CPF for the aged while another featured the rising numbers of drug users among upper secondary students. I had to pause and explain some parts of the program but it was encouraging that the kids were not upset that I hijacked their TV time. It was even gratifying to see them asking questions about some of the issues.

So, back to our initial questions: Should children aged 10 to 14 be introduced to the current affairs? I think they should especially when they are at an age that is still open to listening to us parents and we have the opportunity to gently inject our values and beliefs before they shut that window temporarily in their teenage / young adulthood.

Are they ready to be exposed to the grimmer side of the world? Are any of us ready for the grim world? The world is complicated. We are not doing our kids any favour by insulating them from issues we disapprove of (like drugs, LGBT, terrorism, religion just to name a few). I think that when we expose our kids to current affairs and sometimes the grimmer side of world, we should take into account WHAT we expose them to and HOW we execute our explanations to them.  I will like to think that as young adults, my kids are able to form their own opinions and make wise decisions because I did my job as a parent to equip them with the skills to be thinking individuals.

Are parents prepared to let their pre-teens “think” for themselves? Now this is a million dollar question. Yes, of course many parents will be happy to groom thinking individuals.  The question is are we ready to accept the outcome of their thought process that will only reveal itself in years to come? And when we groom their thought process, will it be through a wide open lens or a narrow one?

Current Affairs & Kids

Join The Current

In a timely fashion, I received an invitation to Join The Current, an educational literacy campaign launched by four Nanyang Technological University (NTU) students as part of a news literacy campaign to engage children aged 10 to 14 to develop an interest in current affairs.

The four 22­-year-old undergraduates are Ms Miranda Yeo, Ms Lynette Teo, Ms Natalie Huam and Ms Fiona Tan. This campaign is part of their final year project at NTU Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and information, and is the first campaign of its kind to champion current affairs for teens. Their aim is to create a national conversation amongst parents that a curiosity for current affairs is important.

The four students conducted a survey of 300 upper primary and lower secondary students and their parents. Respondents were asked about their perceptions of their own news consumption habits, the importance of knowledge in current affairs and their sources of news information. Here are their findings:

Join The Current Survey2

80 per cent of the teens cited a lack of interest as the most common reason for not keeping up with the news.

Join The Current Survey

Join The Current Survey

20 Ways To Get Our Kids Thinking

While parents are keen to introduce current affairs to their kids, most said they did not know how to or had no time. If you are one of them, here are 20 ways to help them.

20 Ways To Join The Current

Not enough to convince you? How about from an academic point of view? According to MOE’s official website, civic literacy, global awareness and cross-cultural skills are among the core competencies that the Ministry hopes parents and schools can help students develop.

Friends with kids in secondary schools shared with me that English at this level meant more essay writings and questions that prompt for their opinions and thoughts on the articles or stories they have read. Secondary school students have to answer questions like “Give two reasons…”, “What is the main message?” or “Why do you think?…”

Check out this video on The Curiosity Box Experiment posted by Join The Current. The video aims to encourage parents to keep their children’s curiosity burning bright and to fuel it by encouraging their children to read widely and reflect on the changes in their world.

Mr Tong Yee, Director of education centre School of Thought shares his perspective on how these conversations develop our children’s identity and give them perspective.

“The more our children read, respond, and wrangle with complex issues, the more compelled they are to  listen in to their own voice. The voice is a very powerful commodity. Current affairs give children more understanding of why things happen the way they do, why they respond the way they do, and what they need to do to solve these problems.”

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Share with US what your thoughts are on this post. You will stand a chance to win one of TEN goodie bags.

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To take part and qualify, please make sure all the following steps are completed:

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If you like this post, do connect with US on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or share your thoughts/experiences in the comments below. We will love to hear from you.

For more information on Join The Current, head to their website.

Till our next post, love yourself, love one another.

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18 Comments

  1. Yes yes! Why not? The bigger the exposure, the more they will be able to comprehend current affairs. I do not remember at what age was I introduced to News but I recall how difficult it was of me to catch what they were saying. News now has subtitles right? That’s even better! Help with word recognition too.

    1. Hi May, same with me too on the understanding of news. I just introduced news watching (in Mandarin) to my kids and I find that I have to sit and explain to them, otherwise they “catch no ball” if you know what I mean.. ;-P

  2. I remember reading newspaper from quite an early age. Have already started doing for my Daughter though I filter them a lot. Great post!

  3. I think 10 to 14 is definitely old enough to start thinking about current affairs! Even my then 4 year old was pretty curious about the General Elections last year.

  4. Wow it’s pretty shocking to hear that 74% of teens don’t read the news! No wonder every time I start talking about newsy stuff to my parents, my sisters will give me the “???” face. And they are not even teens! I believe that 10 to 14 years old is a great time to expose children to news. It may not be politics, but I feel that it is necessary to be kept in the loop.. it’s scary to pass through day-by-day without knowing anything that’s happening around. :O

    1. That’s right!. I agree with your views Jacqualine. It is not only a good habit to inculcate in our kids at this age, it will really help them later when they have to do GP (general paper) in JC (junior college).

  5. I’m one of those that do not read the papers since forever. Just because I don’t like to get my hands stained with the black ink. I do however wish my girls to pick up reading and be interested in news and current affairs when they grow up. If 10 is a good start, then I’ve got 5 more years to go to cultivate the eldest’s love for reading.

    1. Yes, your girls are still young, so have time. I agree with you that getting them to pick up and be more interested in reading is more critical at this stage. I see them reading all the time on your pics, so you are on the right track. 🙂

  6. Yes, a BIG YES!! I am a little surprised actually because I thought with digital content made readily averrable, I thought tweens & teens would read more of the news. And not just STOMP, hahah!!!

    1. News is boring to them at this stage because the topics are very adult in nature. Unless parents or teachers explain the essence to them, they are more likely to switch to Disney shows or animations still.

  7. Lovely post and yes it is a good way to expose them to current affairs and news. As nowadays everything is so digital but I still love them to read the newspaper.

    1. Hi Pooja, thanks for the comment. Your kids still have some years before they have to read the newspapers. I think kids these days are so smart that if you talk to them about current affairs, they will surprise us with their candid understanding. Then, later reading the newspapers (in print or digitally) will be an easy transition for them. 🙂

  8. Yes I don’t believe in bubble-wrapping our kids too and feel that they should be aware and concerned about things happening in the world around them. As parents, I think it’s not that we should shy them away from the worrisome issues, but teach them how to handle and deal with them appropriately in ways they can easily understand for their age.

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

  9. Although my firstborn has the habit of reading the Straits Times, it is also important to have some informal discussion time so as to listen to her views about what she has read. That part I find it difficult to do as we are all busy with our own stuff. The findings from the project done by the NTU undergrads are interesting, and speak a lot about the extent of interest our teens have in current affairs.

    1. Hi Mary, thanks for stopping by. I am so impressed that your first born has a habit of reading the papers! How did you manage that? Please share… I agree that it is challenging to find time to discuss with them. We circumnavigate that by having one hour plus each evening to watch and discuss newsy / documentary shows. So far it’s working well for us. 🙂

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