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The Impact of News on Kids

Your kids can’t help but encounter the news — they may hear about scary stuff on the playground at school, they may see the newsfeed on your phone or tablet, overhear the videos you play on your laptop, or read the headlines. Once they’re able to read, you can’t really shield them from it, but you can moderate their experience.

Kids’ main concern, whether they voice it or not, is that they, and the family, are safe. Hearing about people fighting each other in the streets and getting run over by cars is frightening. Listen to their fears and reassure them that you know how to keep them from harm. Your kids notice the way you handle the news to determine their own approach. If you can stay calm and rational, they will, too.

Approach them about what they already know about something they heard about in the news. Since they probably heard it from their friends, they’re likely to only have partial or incorrect information. Help them differentiate between fact and opinion. (Not necessarily easy for us to do ourselves these days!) Ask them for their thoughts about what they’re seeing or hearing. Explain as much as you think your child can digest and understand.

The website Common Sense Media has some helpful resources and information on how to approach this topic, particularly with sensitive kids. “Many kids can handle a discussion of threatening events, but if your kids tend toward the sensitive side, be sure to keep them away from the TV news; repetitive images and stories can make dangers appear greater, more prevalent, and closer to home.”

Take time to watch their short video about kids’ views of the news— young people take in more than we realize! Here’s a Media Tool Kit designed specifically for parents.

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