How to Explain the Presidential and Vice Presidential Debates to Your Children

By Amanda Roland
presidential and vice presidential debates

With presidential debates in full swing, maybe it’s time to talk to your kiddos about what these debates are. For your children, especially your teens and those able to vote, election season can be hard to navigate, and your child might have a couple questions about politics. The presidential and vice presidential debates can provide a lot of insight into each respective candidate, but they could be very confusing if you are new to these kinds of debates. We have some answers to your kiddos’ questions if they are curious about watching the debates this year.

When is the presidential election?

The 2020 presidential election will take place on November 3. In this election, citizens will vote for who they want to be the president and vice president for the next four years, as well as vote on other ballot items that are specific to their state or county.

When do the presidential and vice presidential debates take place?

The first 2020 presidential debate took place on September 29, and you can watch a recording of it here. There will be two other presidential debates on October 15 and October 22. The only vice presidential debate will take place on October 7. All debates will start at 9 p.m. and last for 90 minutes.

How are the debates structured?

Each debate is 90 minutes long. The moderator of the debate, a neutral participant, is in charge of asking the candidates (presidential or vice presidential) a series of questions related to their political stance, political agenda, current events, controversial topics and the like. At the begging of each debate, a coin is flipped to determine which candidate will start answering questions first and who will be able to give his or her closing statement first. Once the debate begins, the first candidate has 2 minutes to answer the given question, and the opposing candidate has 1 minute to respond to or contradict the statements made. This question and answer process continues for the majority of the 90 minutes until closing statements are made by each candidate.

In the past, and in current debates, candidates have had a problem with staying within the time limits of their allotted question-answering time, or candidates have interrupted or talked over their opponent when it is not their turn to speak. This can be frustrating for the viewer. We encourage watching the debate on a platform that allows you to pause so that if your children who are watching have questions or get overwhelmed, you can pause the debate and talk about what is happening as a family.

What is the point of a presidential or vice presidential election?

Presidential and vice presidential elections are most beneficial for those who are on the fence about who to vote for or do not subscribe to one particular political party. There is no concrete evidence to prove that presidential debates can sway an election one way or another. However, these debates are watched by millions of people every election season, and they can provide a lot of insight into each candidate and how they speak about their personal campaigns.

Should my child watch the debate?

Allowing your child to watch the debate all depends on your child’s age, maturity level and ability to understand the topics at hand. While it is great for children to be made aware of current political happenings, watching a late-night, heated debate might not be the best thing for your child if they are not ready. If your child is of voting age or takes an interest in politics, the political debate could be a great chance to let your child learn more about what is happening in today’s political climate. No matter what, remember to be there for your child if they have questions or concerns about voting or the election season.


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