Kids & Voting: The Ultimate Show-n-Tell

Nov. 1, 2010 Everyone’s buzzing about getting out the vote, but if you’re under 18, what’s a kid to do, besides prodding parents to find their nearest voting spot?

Google Election Center’s gadget has a handy dandy mobile texting app that does NOT harvest address info, but DOES enable voters to text “where” to 30644 and find the nearest polling place online. Excellent use of techno civics. (thanks WebProNews for all the other Google gadgets too!)

In classrooms, voting simulations take place on sites like but the fun stuff for younger kids is often embedded in virtual worlds or media driven entities that use innovation and simulation to engage kids with civics instilling participatory learning early and often.

Back in ’08 I asked whether Media Simulations Where Kids Cast Their Vote are “Silly or Sage?” and focused on storytelling sims, such as the one we tested awhile back with Dizzywood’s forest of critters rallying for ‘inworld’ elections…but since then, we’ve seen media using voting and polls vault skyward with kids insatiable desire to standup and be counted with REAL online to offline bridges for students to be heard.

Example? The “Heart Your” campaign taking place with the Togetherville online neighborhood (which is sort of a ‘Facebook on training wheels’ for kids 10 and under; see screenshots here) has created a co-branded spot where kids can vote, rally, and lobby peers to take action and be heard to help their school.

This is interesting to me for kids’ voter simulations for a few reasons:

1.) Togetherville itself is sort of a simulation, since it mimics the social media hub systems of social networks like Facebook to instill digital citizenship and media literacy how-tos early on…(FB, but not!)

2.) Togetherville is backed by the well respected which also happens to be comprised of social networking industry pros…ergo:

3.) Social media pros are savvy sorts, and certainly know that dangling a $10,000 prize for cash-strapped schools will easily have social media ‘virality’ due teachers and educators getting onboard in dire need of funding…

4.) Togetherville and Heart Your School are inextricably entwined, so what  better way to launch a new site than to have authority figures lead the marketing in voter-driven virality, and educate with media literacy on social media to boot?

So as you head to the polls remember, YOUR actions as citizens online and off, are instilling democracy and civics lessons directly to the ‘under 18 non-voter’ crowd…

At the very least, show kids you voted.

I’ve already seen tons of links lobbed all over Facebook from Comedy Central, and the Oct 30 Rally To Restore Sanity with the Colbert/Stewart duo to teaparty pundits…so even though high schoolers can’t vote yet, they’re being lobbied to start thinking about it in peer to peer comments ranging from issues on the ballot to candidates themselves.

Again, we’re a nonpartisan nonprofit, so I’m not going to get into mud wrestling with media messaging, I AM going to ask to be mindful of “what  we are teaching” when it comes to the bullying, infighting and ‘adults behaving badly’ levels of intolerance flinging to and fro. (not to mention following the money trail, which is an added fiscal fitness bonus for kids to use in life lessons)

TimeSaver alert for adults (& students doing government projects):

There are some useful information consolidators and digital tools by region, such as “” in CA which gives a snapshot of public policy in “rough and tumble” times and tracking who said what in the California governor’s race.

Likewise, remind kids that deconstructing debates and the stagecrafting of conventions can be fabulous forms of media literacy to see how news is ‘manufactured’…with lessons lobbed into the digital arena in analysis of reporting, objectivity,  editorializing and even voting/polling/pleas and simulations.

I highly recommend a visit to Frank Baker’s Media Literacy Clearinghouse for some of the best media/politics & influence conversation openers to begin instilling the ‘importance of voting’ using critical thinking skills.

Finally, as I asked earlier in this piece about the ‘08 Nickelodeon poll, “Will Kids Pick the President?’ —Maybe not right now, but soon.

So teach your children well. An ultra- easy way tomorrow? Take kids to the polls with you

It’s a great way to ‘show and tell’ how each of our actions matter.

Related Posts from Shaping Youth Archives on Kids/Voting

Project Vote Smart: Youth Hub For Critical Thinking Skills

Dear Media, Please Do Your Job…(Election Spinmeisters)

Role of Media in Elections: Help Students Spot the Spin (MLC)

Using Mobile to Mobilize: Tapping Into Youth Info Needs

Stagecrafting Conventions, Media Literacy Tips for Kids

Custom Viral Video Where Kids Become the Write-In Candidate!

GovTweets: A Snapshot of Election Dialogue

Did Jott the Vote Decide to Move On?

Will Kids Pick the President?



  1. This just in from “Kids off the Couch” (great lil’ media/movie online to offline activities bridge) Pls. tell a friend about ’em (free, worthwhile) Sign up: —They seem to be in the same camp of using civics as teaching tools, here’s their newsltr blurb:

    “We attended The Women’s Conference last week, which fired us up about getting to the polls tomorrow. Why? The conference theme — “It’s time… to be an Architect of Change” — reminded us that each of our voices is critical.

    Witnessing a conversation between former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsberg was particularly thrilling. Neither justice, each of whom was at the top of her class at Stanford and Harvard Law Schools respectively, could get a job in a law firm when they first started their careers. Four women have now been appointed to the Supreme Court. Change can indeed happen in a life time. We hope that you’ll exercise your civic responsibility by voting tomorrow. It only takes a moment and we promise that you will feel virtuous afterward. Your voice does matter.

    How to Teach Kids a Family Civic Lesson: We are big on bringing kids with us to vote. They will enjoy punching out the chads and can wear your “I Voted” sticker all day long. Best of all, they’ll get the message that democracy is active.

    Studies show that political beliefs are developed at home but since no kid wants to be lectured about politics, here are some media choices that will open up the subject for discussion.

      Toddlers and Pre-School:

    We loved listening to School House Rock: Election Edition, singing along with songs about how a bill passes through Congress and learning a catchy rhyme about the Constitution.

      Elementary school:

    There’s nothing better for rousing politicos than Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.Our Popcorn Adventure centered around this classic Jimmy Stewart title about a fresh-faced Senator in Washington D.C. includes tips on voting with kids.


    All the President’s Men is about the power of the press. Our Popcorn Adventure is about touring the Los Angeles Times’ printing and editorial facilities. Turns out, teens think it’s pretty cool to watch Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford in their edgy prime.”

    Brava! Couldn’t agree more! Great age/stage media tips…

  2. I’d personally also like to state that most individuals who find themselves devoid of health insurance are typically students, self-employed and those that are out of work. More than half from the uninsured are under the age of Thirty five. They do not sense they are in need of health insurance since they’re young and also healthy. Their income is often spent on housing, food, and also entertainment. Some people that do work either full or part-time are not given insurance by means of their jobs so they head out without owing to the rising price of health insurance in the us. Thanks for the thoughts you write about through this web site.

Speak Your Mind