Local and national news is not child friendly.
Today, kids are exposed to more news from everywhere.
With a 24/7 news cycle it is difficult – maybe impossible – to shelter your child from stories about natural disasters, tragedy, crime and war. Even adults will tell you that the 24-hour news cycle has become a source of stress.
Children who hear about devastating topics in news coverage are likely not mature enough to handle the subject matter. CommonSenseMedia.org says, “No matter how old your kid is, threatening or upsetting news can affect them emotionally.”
And, those emotions can last long after the news event is over.
Here are some guidelines for helping your child:
• If there is something you think they need to know, or will certainly hear about at school, assure them they are safe and that the grown-ups in their life are going to keep it that way.
• Watch the news together. You will be there to ease any fear the stories may cause, and you can provide a context for stories that are too difficult to understand.
• Monitor – and limit – the amount of time children spend surfing the Internet or watching television.
• Check in. This is especially important for teens, who will have absorbed the news independently of you. Talking with them can offer great insights into their developing politics.
• News coverage is not appropriate for children under 7. Experts say young children should not be exposed to negative stories that may scare them.
The bottom line is that young kids simply don’t have the ability to understand news events in context. And though older teens are better able to understand current events, even they face challenges when it comet to sifting fact from opinion – or misinformation. Make sure young children and teens understand that breaking news isn’t always correct. In the rush to be the first, reporters make errors and officials don’t always have correct information.
We all should be aware and understand that news is designed to attract viewers.