The 24-hour news cycle, the internet and social media all allow people to stay much more connected to the events going on around the world, but as parents, we often don’t know the extent of our children’s exposure to news coverage when it comes to tragic events - especially in 2020.
While it is important for kids to understand the world around them and the events that shape and affect their lives, parents and caregivers can struggle with the question, “How much is too much?”
According to the American Psychological Association, parents should learn to manage the amount of exposure their children have to tragic news events and prevent overexposure to such events. Experts say taking a break from news coverage increases our own resilience and the resilience of our children to cope with difficult situations.
Here are a few ways you can help manage the amount of exposure your children have to tragic news events, according to the APA.
1. Talk to your children: Parents should have an age appropriate conversation with your children and teens about what they have seen and heard. Explain or correct rumors or misunderstandings that they may have.
2. Be mindful of your children: It’s easy to get caught up in news coverage and not even realize your children are present. It’s unnecessary for very young children to watch news coverage at all. They may not understand that what they see are replays which can be misconstrued as circumstances happening again.
3. Find other ways to connect: Children may want to send pictures they made or letters they have written to families, first responders, hospitals or teachers. This can be a way to take positive actions and express caring.
4. Plan your TV/internet viewing: Find windows of time each day (like in the morning, midday and evening) to watch. Limit this to 30–60 minutes. Then get up and do something else. If you continue to want to stay with TV/Internet, switch to another show or site that has programming you enjoy.