Children often see or hear the news many times a day through television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and the Internet. Seeing and hearing about local and world events, such as natural disasters, catastrophic events, and crime reports, may cause children to experience stress, anxiety, and fears.
There have also been several changes in how news is reported that have given rise to the increased potential for children to experience negative effects. These changes include the following:
While there has been great public debate about providing television ratings to warn parents about violence and sex in programming, news shows have only recently been considered in these discussions. Research has shown, however, that children and adolescents are prone to imitate what they see and hear in the news, a kind of contagion effect described as "copy cat" events. Chronic and persistent exposure to such violence can lead to fear, desensitization (immunity), and in some children an increase in aggressive and violent behaviors. Studies also show that media broadcasts to not always choose to show things that accurately reflect local or national trends.
For example, statistics report a decrease in the incidence of crime, yet, the reporting of crime in the news has increased 240%. Local news shows often lead with or break into programming to announce crime reports and devote as much as 30% of the broadcast time to detailed crime reporting.
The possible negative effects of news can be lessened by parents, teachers,
or other adults by watching the news with the child and talking about
what has been seen or heard. The childs age, maturity, developmental
level, life experiences, and vulnerabilities should guide how much and
what kind of news the child watches.
Guidelines for minimizing the negative effects of watching the news:
Parents should remember that it is important to talk to the child or
adolescent about what he/she has seen or heard. This allows parents
to lessen the potential negative effects of the news and to discuss
their own ideas and values. While children cannot be completely protected
from outside events, parents can help them feel safe and help them to
better understand the world around them.
Daycare.com would like to thank American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry for this information in striving to make daycare and childcare a more productive and efficient service. You can contact them at: 3615 Wisconsin Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20016-3007 voice: 202-966-7300 fax: 202-966-2891.