It’s a tricky question that every parent and grandparent will have to face at some point. Ultimately, we all know that letting your kids watch TV can be detrimental to their health if you can’t control what they’re watching – and how much of it. Unfortunately, there is only so much control you can have over your child’s interaction with the screen. The real question is not whether you should allow your children watch the news or not. Ultimately, there are so many scenarios in which they would gain knowledge of what is happening in the world, that it becomes a pointless quest. What parents and grandparents need to focus on is how to handle the many questions that children might have after their first news encounter.
The terrifying fires in Australia
If your children or grandchildren caught up with the news in recent days, it’s fair to say they would have heard about the wildfires in Australia. The terrifying images of the flames engulfing trees and bushes without signs of stopping is something that can trigger nightmares in the little ones. Unfortunately, you can’t erase what they’ve just seen. But you can help them to make sense of it and process it. So where do you start? The first and most obvious point is to explain the Australian climate. Wildfires are happening right now because it’s the peak of summer in Australia, and as such, the weather is dry and hot. Natural causes such as lightning strikes are all it takes for blazes to start and spread. You can also use this article about wildfire health risk by the University of Southern California about wildfire health risk that can help young ones to understand why firefighters are struggling. You can end on a lighter note, by telling your kids just how they can help the people and animals in Australia by helping with donations. Nothing beats a lemonade stands in the neighborhood.
The first concept of racial discrimination might come from the news
While you know about racial bias in everyday life because you’ve probably witnessed it at work, in the street, or even at school when you were younger, you have to realize that it is a new concept for children. As parents – and grandparents – it is your role to answer questions that might arise as a result of watching the news. It’s always a challenging topic to discuss races, especially because we would much prefer for our kids not to notice any difference. The truth is that your child has always known there were African-American, Chinese, Latino, etc. people. Your job is not to pretend otherwise, but to explain honestly what discrimination means and why it is a bad thing. Making a positive lesson out of stressful topics is a reason why your children should watch the news.
What does climate change mean?
Can anybody turn on the news without hearing about climate change, climate activists and environmental measures? If you can’t, chances are your kids can’t either. But while you understand what the environmental crisis entails, they are still unsure of how it can affect the planet in the future. It’s crucial to explain not only what is causing the change of climate – you’ll find a helpful overview for kids by DW – and why it matters. Understanding the threats to the survival of wildlife is one thing, but you need to focus on what your child can do to improve the situation. Ending on a positive note that gives them the power to change things for the better is vital, both for them and us!
Why is everything always bad?
Watching the news can be a stressful experience. Indeed, we rarely get to hear about the positive things that happen around the world! As such, you might find it tricky to soothe your child’s anxiety. While sports and meditation might help adults, they are not an effective coping mechanism for stress at a young age. What children need is the promise that not all the news is terrible. You can direct them to the Good News Network, which is entirely dedicated to sharing positive stories around the world.
The world is a dangerous place. Every parent has once wondered how to protect their child from everything that happens in the world. The truth is, you can’t. Your child will, one day or another, switch to the news channel and hear about negative or alarming events in the US and abroad. But you have a choice to make. You can help them to understand what those events mean and how to process them – and sometimes even find a solution –, or you can choose to ignore the opportunity for a fantastic life lesson. What will you choose? Should children watch the news?