Is it OK to let kids watch the news??
With all the back and forth and up and down in the news, it is difficult to know what to think anymore. As confusing as it is for adults, can you imagine what it is like for kids to see and hear what’s going on in the world? I began to wonder if it was a good idea to have kids even be around reporting of current events. We are a divided country right now and I asked myself if kids are alright with this?
From what I have been reading, many kids are very concerned about current affairs. But unlimited access to these stories might not be a great idea. They will see crying children being separated from their families, witness acts of violence in our country and around the world and hear both the democratic and republican parties bad mouthing one another.
After watching these events, kids might ask their parents questions like:
- Can a person with a gun get into my school?
- Is someone going to take us away from each other?
- Is that fire/ earthquake/ flood going to hit us?
- Why are those people fighting with each other?
I know how easy it is to leave the television on in your house and you don’t even realize it’s on. You go about your chores, get the kids homework done with them, have their friends over and in the background the noise of the TV gets unnoticed. However, what we don’t realize is that a child might stop for a few seconds and hear of a story that can cause anxiety and you might start hearing questions like the ones above. Or you might have your child wake you up because of a nightmare s/he saw on the news.
So, our advice is:
- Hold off keeping the TV on ad infinitum
- Restrict their viewing of current affairs until your child is 10 years old
- After ten, watch the news with them so you know what they have witnessed and you can talk about what you both have seen and what you think about it
- Don’t be scared to ask your children if they have any feelings about what they watched. This can set up an environment where your child won’t be afraid to voice their fears to you. (In a Kidscape survey, it was reported that only a quarter of 9-13 year old were open to talk to their parents about their anxiety)
Even with your best efforts, there is a chance your child under 10 will see the news at home or at a friends house. Ask them about it and see if there is anything confusing or scary for them.
If your child says s/he is afraid, don’t dismiss it. Acknowledge that what they saw is real and have a rational and realistic talk with them. Let them know that they are safe and loved and help them stay in the moment. No one can predict the future, but your job is to encourage freedom of expression and help them have as much peace of mind as possible so they can enjoy their early years.