Welcome to another post in the TNIM Talks series. Today we’re talking about children and the media, more specifically:
Should children be exposed to violence and terrorist events through the media
I have gathered up my favourite bloggers to give their opinion on this topic. We’d love to hear your views, leave a comment at the end of the story!
Michelle from Mum from the Heart
Should we expose our kids to the media reports of Terrorism? No I don’t think we should. Our children and young and innocent and I feel like they should stay that way as long as they can. As kids get older they do need to know more about the world around them but the media have a way of sensationalising a story for views, they want us outraged, and while we should be, often we are not given the whole story. As adults we know that the media likes to spin the news their way, that certain programs like to give just one very biased side of the story, and yet on a sensitive subject like terrorism we can get so caught up that we stop thinking logically and questioning the story and start to just believe it as it is reported. Often we hear much later (and much quieter) the ‘full story’, once they have all the information, and it is not always the same as the first cries of terrorism would have it seem.
I remember being woken by a phone call after the first plane hit the World Trade Centre and I was watching live as the second plane hit and then as everything came crashing down. I was just 18 at the time and it was the first I had ever heard of terrorism. If that happened today I would never allow my children to watch the media coverage. This year I did explain what 9/11 was to my daughter (7) as she asked. I told her what happened, I made it appropriate for her age, I helped her understand that a lot of really good people were there to help and that they sadly lost their lives and we as a society have changed a lot since then. I explained that there are bad people in the world and for that reason we must always be kind. We never watch the nightly news in this house and I have on occasion turned on the morning shows only to be greeted by car crashes and gun violence. I don’t need to start my day that way and I don’t want my kids to either.
As parents we need to remember that just because our kids can understand what we tell them does not mean they can think about it logically. Until the age of 10 they cannot really understand the wars happening in other nations and how they may or may not impact us. If they hear about a car driving through a crowd and do not differentiate nation, they just experience fear. I do not want that for them, so for as long as I can I will protect them from sensationalised media and teach them in a kid friendly manner what they need to know only.
As Mums we need to truly be able to love ourselves, find the fun in the chaos and have a giggle along the way. When we do this we can parent from love not fear and that’s my goal. I have struggled along the way with PND, 3 kids under 3 and my own fear of messing this all up but I have come through all that with so many new skills, with new knowledge and a level of self-compassion that I strive to teach to other Mums.
Today I work as a counsellor and parental coach for other parents who are struggling. I help parents adapt to the stressors that come with parenting and find their own sense of well-being so they too can parent from the heart.
My blog is my journey of letting go of the fear of not being a perfect mum, embracing the energy and enthusiasm of 3 young kids finding the fun in each day.
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Miriam from But, Still breathing
The world we live in is filled with terror. Reports of wars, shootings of all types, bombings, and senseless acts of hatred are a daily occurence, permeating every form of media available to adults and children alike.
In the Awake! article “The Pressures Facing Today’s Youths” it remarks, “One researcher claims that “‘about 90% of young people ages 5 to 17 use computers, and 59% of them use the Internet.’”
Therefore, even if we try, we cannot prevent our children from being exposed to at least some imagery of violence ot terrorism. It’s like air around us – when you smell something bad, you may try to hold your breath to get away from it, but eventually you will need to breathe again – there’s that smell.
An ancient Proverb acknowledges “foolishness is tied up with the heart of a boy.” Children are prone to the insecure and anxious feelings common to growing up. When you mix in the confusion of the world that we live in today, navigating current events can seem impossible! Internet-safety expert Parry Aftab wrote, “Kids know more about technology. Parents know more about life.” In other words, we as adults need to guide our children through these reports.
Foremost is regular and ongoing communication between child and adult. We don’t want our kids to be damaged by adult issues sooner than they should, but at the same time, we don’t want them getting false information elsewhere. So, they should feel comfortable coming to us when they feel worried about the things they see or hear, never feel afraid or ashamed to ask questions, never feel we are too busy for them, and they should feel confident and secure in they answers they receive.
We should teach our children how to react to media violence through our own example, reactions, and responses. If we express anger, prejudice, retaliation, fear, etc., this is what our child will learn to express. We want to display the qualities that we wish our children to display. Remain calm, maintain your love for others, never express extremities.
Lastly, I personally think that to fully help our children, we need to help them to maintain a hope for the future. If children live in fear constantly, it has serious consequences on their development. I believe that as adults raising these children up we have an obligation to give them something to hope for and look forward to, and not to live in fear of what will happen tomorrow.
We live in a climate of terror-saturated environment, and there is little we can do to prevent exposure to it. However, there is much we can do to prevent our children being damaged by it. With time, patience, and love, we can guide our children into a hopeful future without fear.
On March 6, 2015, my life began again. I had waited over six months on the transplant list, which for someone like me felt perceptively forever, and I came precariously close to the unimaginable. But, on that remarkable day, because of an anonymous organ donor, I received my new, sparkly, fantastic lungs! My life hasn’t been the same since.
So, what’s this blog about? All the adventures that go along with being a transplant recipient and a sufferer of chronic illness – the good, the bad, and the unapologetic. Since that extraordinary day, my whole perception has changed – how I feel about life, the meaning of true friendship, who I consider to be family, even things as seemingly simple as how I view food (I eat a lot more of candy now!). Join me on my journey. Perhaps we’ll learn something new about life together.
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Shona from Thriving Sistas
There’s little doubt that our current times are frightening times – we don’t have to look far to find some evidence of terror or war happening somewhere in the world. However there is also little doubt that these happenings are sensationalised by the media.
Let’s think for a minute about the media – especially mainstream media – and what the interests of this corporation are. I’m sure they have a LOT of interests – I somehow doubt the mental and emotional health of our children is one of them.
As parents, it is our responsibility to provide for our children’s mental and emotional health. If we want them to grow into stable and functioning adults we need to be mindful of what is being fed to them and their developing psyches. We need to have a say – the MAIN say – into what their young, innocent and impressionable minds are absorbing.
Children, especially small children, are not necessarily able to tell the difference between real and perceived danger. It doesn’t take a genius to realise that a regular diet of horror/war/terror images spells bad news for their innocent and impressionable minds, and that exposure to such images will likely result in increased levels of fear and anxiety – not to mention nightmares and night terrors.
I therefore believe that children should NOT be exposed through the media to terror events as they happen around the world. Please – for the love of god – do NOT leave your children unattended with the TV news or internet when there has been such an event! This is what I believe you should do instead:
If they ask questions, do your best to answer in simple language. Reassure them that they are not in danger. Let them see that you, as their parent, are coping and are in charge. Encourage them to come to you with fears or questions. Really, they just want to know that they and their loved ones will be OK. They do NOT need to know the intricacies of why/how/what happened.
Talk to your children regularly and show them a balanced view of the world. Make sure they know that for all of the bad in the world, there is always good. Most importantly – do not allow the media to teach your children about the world. YOU be their teacher!
Shona is a divorced single mother (to two teenagers) and writer from Australia.
After surviving the pain of the sudden and unexpected breakdown of her marriage, her passion now lies in supporting and empowering women to not only survive but THRIVE through change and upheaval – whatever the cause of that change and upheaval.
If you are currently, or have ever, or will POTENTIALLY ever go through any of these sucky situations then please head over to Shona’s site and check it out:
- Separation and/or Divorce
- Feeling unsure of yourself or where you’re headed due to ANY significant life change or upheaval
- A tendency to give your power away in relationships
- Not realising your true worth OR the empowered goddess that you truly are
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Kirsty from That Noise Is Mine
My kids have never seen the nightly news, they wouldn’t even know it exists. In fact sometimes if we’re out and about at events I often catch myself saying “Oh we’ll have to watch the news tonight and see if it’s on there” which I’m met with blank looks “The what???”.
Several years ago, a high profile Australian Rules football coach was killed by his son in a drug induced rage. At the time my eldest son supported this football team. I remember hearing the news on the radio whilst driving to work that morning. My kids were already at school. Throughout the day I thought about how and what I was going to say to my son and decided that I wasn’t going to say anything just yet and explain to him in a few days time that the coach had died without fully explaining the circumstances.
We used to watch the football every Friday night, so that night we sat down but instead of Football I put on a happy movie. My eldest son says “Oh I suppose the football has been cancelled because the coach was killed by his son”. I asked him how he knew about that, he said a boy at school had told him.
This then forced me to have a discussion with an 8 year old boy that I didn’t want to be having. How do you explain an event like that to a child?
In a few months time I’ll be taking one of my boys to his first concert. I bought the tickets a few days before the terror event at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. Once again, he heard about that event through someone at school and was worried about going to the concert we’re going to (different artist) just in case the same thing happens.
He’s worried about something that will probably never happen.
Did you know that you have a greater chance of being crushed to death by furniture than you do of being killed in a terror event? Yet if you listen to the media it is an everyday occurrence that happens just walking down the street.
I don’t want to be raising a generation of anxiety ridden children thinking they can’t go anywhere or do anything because of terror events.
Nope, I don’t believe that children should be exposed to terror events through the media. I believe it is up to parents to explain terror events to children in a way that is appropriate for the child.
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So, what do you think? Leave your comments below.
If you would like to participate in future TNIM Talks series please contact me! You don’t need a blog to participate – just an opinion!