Children's comprehension of and fear reactions to television news

Stacy L. Smith, Barbara J. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study assesses children's reactions to television news. A total of 125 children from two grade levels (K-3rd vs. 4th-6th) were interviewed about their comprehension of and emotional responses to everyday news stories. The results show that older children are more likely to understand, as well as be frightened by, television news than are younger children. Both age groups were able to recall and describe news stories that made them feel upset. However, age-related differences were observed in the types of stories that younger and older children recalled as scary. Finally, there is some evidence that repeated exposure to television news affects children's perceptions of how much crime occurs in distant communities. The findings are consistent with developmental differences in how children process mass media messages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalMedia Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Applied Psychology


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