Updated May 2017
Children are scared by TV news that shows violence, shootings, terrorist attacks, wars, disasters and plane crashes – or even show dead or hurt children. There is rarely anything positive. Such news distresses adults. For children it is even more so.
Children are often scared by TV news.
Long after the TV’s turned off; these images play in children’s minds. They lack the skill to process these images; they cannot distance themselves from them. Children fear that such things could happen to them or their family. Their safe, loving environment and innocence is ruptured. Some may start to think that the world is only a dangerous place full of bad people.
Children are scared by TV news – age determines how they react
Younger children up to five to six years old are rarely affected. For them, all news is irrelevant, not entertaining nor fun to watch. They also have short attention spans.
Older children from six to 10 or so are most vulnerable. They know the difference between fantasy and reality but may interpret the news as personal – that the distressed child in the news could be them.
Teenagers, being more media savvy, know that images are used to increase program ratings. Nevertheless, they too get disturbed by adverse news. Here, knowledge is power. Discuss issues with your teenager and furthermore, encourage them to research the subject and only then to put together their informed opinions.
Children scared by TV news – should we try to protect them by prohibit them watching TV news at all?
This is not a sound strategy. Children inevitably hear about these things from other children at school and from other adults. You can however limit their news watching. Ideally, only watch the news together with your children. Discuss the issues arising; interject values, morals and social rules into it as much as you can. As far as possible, turn the news into positives such as communities rallying together, other people helping, and showing strength and resilience against the difficulties.
Children scared by TV news – listen to them and encourage questions.
Always answer truthfully. Agree that the event is terrible and frightening. This encourages children to express their feelings. Assure them they and the family are safe. Show that your child is loved and give hugs, even to teenagers.
Encourage the child to express their feelings by doing art, or play (older child can write about their feelings). Impart a sense that they are not helpless, that they have some control. Perform a small ritual, such as lighting a candle for the memory of the children in accidents. Or discuss things you all can do together to help.
Children scared by TV news – continue being involved with your teenager’s life.
Monitor children’s online activities. Prolonged exposure to violence or graphic images desensitises the young mind and can develop into violence.
If you notice some changes in your child’s behaviour, such as nightmares, that they seem frightened, that they become clingy and or are reluctant to go to school – seek professional help for your child.
It helps considerably for a child to attend therapy to assist overcoming the emotional impact of frightening news in media. Therapy helps a child to express their feelings and to be happy and confident.
Contact me (Maarit Rivers) now for an initial free consultation for your child.
firstname.lastname@example.org or call me NOW on 0417 462 115