Kids are talking politics at summer camp, and it’s a problem because they aren’t informed

Over the past few years, it has become increasingly difficult to keep politics out of daily conversations. Whether I’m at work, at home or with friends, the current news cycle effortlessly becomes the main topic of conversation. But I have recently noticed that adults aren’t the only one’s talking politics – children are too.

I work at a camp in Omaha, Neb. teaching art to kids from 5 to 12 years old. My day is packed with carefree fun, but every now and then, the conversation turns from glitter and crayons to topics they’ve heard from their parents or on the news. Over the past month, conversations have centered around President Donald Trump’s efforts to build a wall on the Mexican-American border and immigration.

It may come as a surprise to hear that kids – some as young as seven years old – are talking about politics. But for parents, and even older siblings, it’s no surprise that kids absorb the information that surrounds them. In this political era, it’s important to discuss current event topics with kids so they can understand the world around them and have informed opinions.

A couple of campers have asked me about the kids – many of whom are the same age as them – that are in the Customs and Border Protection detention facilities. The kids were confused about why some children were separated from their families and a few even asked if that could happen to them. While my campers knew what was happening, they didn’t know why and that has led them to ask the questions that adults need to answer.

Although it’s not necessary to give kids a full debriefing on domestic and international politics, leaving them in the dark or to their own devices can lead to anxiety or the spread of false information. Amanda Gummer, a child psychologist, states that “parents should talk about politics, but in an age-appropriate way.” By talking about politics with them, they are productively included in conversations that they might not have been able to be a part of before.

To talk constructively with kids of any age, it’s important to stick to the facts and avoid biases. Tell kids what you know, and…

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