The child of a newspaper reporter and a former editor myself, I used to be a television news junkie. But that all changed when my first child was born, and my husband and I made it a policy to never have the news on when the children were present. As the boys got older, the news crept back into our lives, and before we knew it, the 6:00am broadcast was our first experience of the morning. Several years ago, I noticed that the graphic bombardment of murders, terrorist threats, muggings, and child abductions was taking its toll on my attitude and my mood. I would leave the house feeling slightly depressed and pessimistic, and couldn’t wait to enter the doors of the school where optimism, joy and hope ruled the day.
Exposure to the violence inherent in any news broadcast can have devastating effects on children. While we might have the television on as background noise, and we ourselves have become numb to the frightening images that are projected, our children may be paying very close attention. They may become anxious or frightened that the day’s featured tragedy might actually happen to them. Students between the ages of 6-10 are most at risk for negative effects as they can discern the difference between truth and fiction. While younger children might worry about a fictional “bogey man,” older children can develop concrete fears about real dangers as a result of watching the news.
Given the negative side effects of watching the news, how do we provide opportunities for our children to learn about world events that are important and worthy of recognition and discussion? There are a number of wonderful family-friendly resources, such as Nick News on the children’s network Nickelodeon, and magazines created especially for children such as “Time for Kids.” One of my personal favorites, which we use in a number of current events classes at school, is an online site called www.dogonews.com
. I always find this material timely and informative. With older children, watching or reading the news with them can help you address any concerns or fears that may arise.
As parents it’s wise for us to carefully consider the quantity, quality and age-appropriateness of the news that is present in our childrens’ lives – whether on television, in print, or on the radio while driving to school. As with all issues related to parenting, an ounce of intention and prevention goes a very long way to maximizing our children’s healthy development.
For more on this topic and for some helpful pointers, check out this article: http://www.childrennow.org/index.php/learn/twk_news
Thoughts? Comments? Ideas? I’d love to hear them! Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org