Children and the News
News is made for adults. There are news reports that children can learn a lot from, but children should not watch the news on their own. Here is some solid advice for parents about children and news reports on the net or TV.
Children can be scared by the news
Small children should be completely shielded from grave news reports about, for example, war, violence, sexual assaults or tragic stories involving children. Children are scared more easily by violence on the news than violence in cartoons.
Explain the News
Children should also have some understanding of serious events that everyone is talking about. You could watch some news reports together with the children, and explain to them what is happening. Use simple words, and avoid horrific details.
Use plenty of time
Children need time to process strong impressions. Some children might wake up with nightmares several days after seeing things on TV. You should therefore be especially aware after serious events that children hear about or see on TV.
Let the Children Explain
It’s important that the children themselves also put words to what they see and hear. What do they understand, and what do they think about what has happened? Let them draw things they have seen on the news, or write short letters or poems about what they see and hear. In that way the children themselves get a chance to process strong impressions
If your child has seen or heard something that upsets him/ her, tell them clearly what you as an adult think about what has happened. Be careful to state what the event means for the child’s everyday life. News can create unnecessary fear of a reality that maybe does not exist where your child lives.
Limit the Volume
Children shouldn’t be spoon-fed with strong images and words from the news. Children don’t appreciate repeats, but can believe that new tragedies occur every evening. It’s better to turn off the TV rather than let children see the same images every evening.
Tell Them About Good News
In the middle of a catastrophe there are also good news that we all need to hear, for example reports about generosity, the efforts of the rescue services, funds from the authorities, but also what we as individuals can do.
Grave News Reports
Parents should protect their children from the news when there have been catastrophes, war, and violent events. The Norwegian child psychologist Magne Raundalen gives good advice about children’s age and what sort of war reports they can watch on TV:
Shouldn’t be an issue. Parents can watch the evening news after the children have gone to bed.
The children need as much protection from the news as possible. They shouldn’t watch war reports on TV. If they do, an explanation from an adult is obligatory.
7- 10 years:
In this age group, children should also have as much protection from the news as possible, but this is often difficult to carry out. The advice is “watch less, talk more.” It is even more important to explain what war is, and the adults should certainly watch the news together with the child.