It is almost impossible to shield our kids from the news these days. So, should you let your child watch the news and at what age is it appropriate?
So much has been happening in the world in the past couple of years that it’s hard to ignore the news. We had to rely on the news to bring us the latest updates about COVID, floods and wars. With so much negativity in the headlines, it can be tough to decide whether or not to let your kids watch the news. So, what’s the right call? Ultimately, it depends on several factors. Here’s what you need to consider when deciding whether or not to let your kids watch the news.
Are kids psychologically ready to watch the news?
It’s important to consider that television is not inherently bad for children. In moderation, it can provide a source of education and enjoyment for kids. On the other hand, unrestricted viewing can put youngsters in contact with realities they may be unable to process psychologically. They may witness crimes and devastation, neglected and abused children from all over the world, natural disasters and violence.
What is the right age to start watching the news?
It’s probably not a good idea for kids under six to watch the news. They can watch from six to 10, but parents should sit with them and avoid stories with graphic details. Over the age of 10, it’s still important to sit with children and explain what is going on, says Dr. Grant Blashki from Beyondblue.
As parents, we need to use our common sense and consider our kids’ age, temperament and psychological development.
What if my child wants to understand what is happening in the world?
We may try to protect our kids from bad news, but sometimes it can be unavoidable. They may have a friend at school that have family in a war zone, or may have been affected by a natural disaster such as floods or droughts. Kids want to understand what is going on around them. They also want to know if they are safe.
If you choose to let your child watch the news, they should watch a news program designed for them, like ABC Behind The News. This program is aimed at children from 8 to 13. It pitches the news at their level and often has kids sharing their experiences and point of view.
How can I help my child understand the news?
Parents mustn’t dismiss the news. Children can start to fantasise about the news, become confused, feel unsafe, and become very anxious.
What should I do?
- Watch the news with your child
- Ask them if they have any questions
- Answer their questions with fact
- Give them a brief explanation
- Provide context
- Reassure your child that you are there to protect them
- Ask them how they are feeling about the news
- Let them know ALL feelings are OK
- Turn it off and move on to an enjoyable activity
If the news is causing anxiety, stop watching and talk about what is happening, reframing the situation in a hopeful way.
The decision of whether or not to let your kids watch the news is a difficult one. It’s important to weigh all of the pros and cons before making a decision. We hope that this blog post has helped you make an informed decision.