Updated: Nov 30, 2022
We used to have the radio on most of the time when the kids were younger, which meant that news updates were frequent. Each morning we would turn the radio on, while breakfast was being prepared and the kids were often sitting on the couch reading or playing. The male voice delivering the news was reporting on yet another terrible murder of a child and our 6 year old slammed his hands on the table and yelled, “I don’t want to hear this stuff anymore!” and he stomped to his room. We were quite shocked, but it truly was an “aha” moment for us, realizing that kids being exposed to the daily news can have a significant negative impact on them. As adults, with more life experiences and a stronger rational mind, we understood that this is the world we live in and that, for the most part, bad news is often “sensationalized”. We understand and try to accept the truth of the old saying, “believe none of what you hear and read, and only half of what you see” – what one hears on the news and reads in the paper is almost never completely factual, it is opinions on second and third hand information. However, children have not yet developed that coping strategy and benefit greatly from adult guidance on what to believe and what to question. What they hear, read, and see, impacts how they feel, think and act – same with adults! We become desensitized to “bad news”, but it has a negative cumulative effect on us, especially on our children – they can become ‘out of sorts’, easily upset and negatively focused – clearly out of ‘balance’. It is impossible to protect our children from the experience of being aware of what’s going on in the world around – and we probably shouldn’t anyway. As adults, we need to help them ‘sift’ through news events to strengthen their developing rational minds and help them shift to a more positive focus on their own learning, growing and engagement in daily life. There are many causal factors that have contributed to the steady rise in anxiety disorders in children and youth and being exposed to all the negativity in the news, the atrocities reported daily, is an important one. Talking to our children about this information will help them sort through it, will improve communication in the family and bring members closer together because those conversations need to be “in person”!