Knowledge, Fear, and Children's Media

Yuval Gozansky, Christina Ortner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingsChapter


This chapter addresses survey findings on children's knowledge about the Covid-19 crisis. It shows that in the first period of the crisis the majority of children had at least basic information about the origins of the virus, its main symptoms, who was most vulnerable, and ways of protecting themselves and others. However, knowledge was not evenly distributed. Older children were slightly better informed than younger ones, and girls knew slightly more than boys. Bigger differences could be found between children from various regions of the world. While European children performed quite well, children from Africa, South-Asia, Oceania and Sub-Saharan Africa had problems in answering questions on Covid-19. The findings on knowledge and fears are also interesting: As we have already seen in other studies (Götz & Holler, 2011), well-informed children are slightly less worried. Though this correlation is moderate and does not necessarily indicate causality, it suggests that being well-informed decreases uncertainty in times of crisis.
After presenting these findings the chapter broadens the discussion to ask how children’s TV might foster knowledge and support children during a crisis. It explains from an educational point of view that kids need basic understanding of the virus as well as support in coping with the challenges of everyday life. Moreover, children’s media should provide a place for children to speak out. Based on these considerations, the chapter examines what producers of children’s TV around the world offered children during the first months of the Covid-19 crisis. The analysis takes as an example 41 programs from 15 countries in different parts of the world submitted to the Prix Jeunesse International 2020 special achievement prize.
As the analysis shows, most programs focused on health issues. Children’s well-being and the challenges of everyday life in times of crisis ware also tackled, yet less often. All in all, the emphasis was more on information or practical advice, and less on emotional aspects. While some programs used a serious tone, others presented the information humorously and playfully or invited children to be creative and look at the funny sides of new situations. Several programs involved children by letting them ask questions, share their knowledge and experiences or express their thoughts and feelings. However, in most of the programs adults were the main actors. Based on these findings we argue that children should be more involved in the public debate on the crisis. However, giving children a voice, considering their concerns and taking their needs seriously are not only the responsibility of (children’s) media, but likewise of parents, educators, experts and policy makers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChildren and Media Worldwide in a Time of a Pandemic
EditorsMaya Götz, Dafna Lemish
Place of PublicationNew York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien
PublisherPeter Lang Verlag
ISBN (Electronic) 9781433194856, 9781433194849
ISBN (Print)9781433194832
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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