Newspapers Diminish Youth Climate Change Activists, Help Adults Avoid Action
Existential psychology offers a framework for understanding how anxiety and guilt about climate change play out in public narratives.
In a new article published in Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Laelia Benoit and her colleagues examine newspaper narratives around ecological action and anxiety among young people and their parents.
Benoit finds that newspaper narratives around climate change center on several themes. Regarding children and adolescents, the researchers found four themes: fierce young activists, adultified children, innocent victims, and ultimate saviors. For parents and adults, the researchers identified four additional themes: experiencing eco-anxiety through parenthood, taming children’s eco-anxiety, criticizing youth-led activism, and reimagining climate action as a source of meaning in the lives of young people.
Taken together, the researchers argue that these narratives depend on ignoring children’s views and downplaying their concerns to present stories that their adult readers won’t ignore due to anxiety and guilt. The current research argues that existential psychology offers useful insights into how we may face anxiety, guilt, and despair around climate change, allowing for more productive responses from adults. They write:
Recent research has found that climate change negatively impacts mental health by disrupting social, economic, and physical systems. A shift in average temperatures from below 30 degrees celsius to above 30 would likely produce 2 million additional instances of mental health difficulties. With new research into epigenetics uncovering how our environment impacts our genes, some researchers believe that the climate crises will negatively influence our mental health and change our genes.#globalwarming #climatechange #carboncompensation #bluesky #climateemergency #climatecrisis #blueskye #blueskyefoundation #greentechexchange #climatenews
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