Preadolescents' Emotional and Prosocial Responses to Negative TV News: Investigating the Beneficial Effects of Constructive Reporting and Peer Discussion

J Youth Adolesc. 2017 Sep;46(9):2060-2072. doi: 10.1007/s10964-017-0675-7. Epub 2017 Apr 19.


Watching news is important for preadolescents, but it may also harm their well-being. This study examined whether applying insights from positive psychology to news production can reduce this potential harm, by reducing negative emotional responses and enhancing positive emotional responses to negative news, and by encouraging prosocial intentions. Moreover, we explored whether peer discussion strengthened these effects. Preadolescents (n = 336; 9-13 years old; 48.5% female) were exposed to either constructive (solution-based news including positive emotions) or nonconstructive news. Subsequently, half of the children assigned to the constructive and the nonconstructive condition participated in a peer discussion. The findings showed that exposure to constructive news resulted in more positive emotional responses and less negative emotional responses as compared to nonconstructive news. Moreover, discussing the news with peers led to more positive and less negative emotional responses among preadolescents who watched the nonconstructive newscast, and to more prosocial intentions among preadolescents who watched constructive news. In all, constructive news reporting and peer discussion could function as tools to make negative news less harmful for preadolescents.

Keywords: Constructive journalism; Emotions; News; Peer discussion; Positive (media) psychology; Prosocial intentions.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aggression / psychology
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / psychology*
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Peer Group*
  • Social Environment
  • Television*