Children’s questions, worries, and information needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. A study based on listeners of the children's science podcast Brains On!
With the world in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, families are seeking trusted and engaging sources of scientific information to help their children understand prevention, transmission, treatment, and many other topics related to COVID-19 in an effort to ease children’s fears. The goal of our NSF-funded RAPID research study is to understand how children’s science podcasts, as well as other educational products, can provide families with information to help ease children’s worries during a pandemic by increasing children’s understanding of pandemic-related science concepts, empowering children to ask more pandemic-related questions, and supporting pandemic-related family conversations.
This report shares findings from the first stage of our research. We drew on listeners of the children’s science podcast Brains On!’s as the sample for our study. Our data sources included a listener survey and children’s questions submitted to Brains On! or posted on Brains On’s! Facebook page. Our findings reveal important insights into the kinds of questions children are asking, the worries they have, and the types of support caregivers are seeking to be able to engage in discussions with their children about the COVID-19 pandemic specifically, and the science behind viruses and preventative health measures more broadly. We hope these findings can inform the development of coronavirus-related educational resources responsive to the information and education needs of families.