Navigating the News

Kids and NewsIt’s hard not to hear what is happening in Washington and in the political world right now. Even if you’re trying to decompress and watch The Ellen Show or The View, coverage is interrupted by the latest in the news and updates on the Senate Hearings and other national world events. With TV or Radio on, even as background, and lots of folks discussing their opinions out loud or in social media, it’s hard to shield our kids from all that’s happening. This also begs the question; Is it a good idea to keep our kids from hearing the news? Is it better to talk to them about what they might hear? Or do we wait for them to ask questions?

There’s a big difference in opinion on the right path to take but according to Richard E. Cytowic M.D. in an article in Psychology Today, he says that “…sugarcoating reality or shielding children from harsh truths may unintentionally hamper their ability to learn from misfortune and develop the resilience that makes negotiating adult life easier.” As Dr. Cytowic states,We learn resilience by facing adversity and getting past it.”

The article War, torture, murder: Why I don’t shield my kids from the news” agrees, but for a different reason. “It’s unfair to cheat kids out of the truth, and it’s an insult to their intelligence.” In today’s media heavy environment, the dilemma is, as the article’s author Naomi Buck states, “…(kids) are going to find out (about the news) anyway. Why wouldn’t we opt to engage with them constructively?”

Several religious doctrines and articles reference the opposite, that there’s a prevailing belief in our culture that the innocence of childhood is sacred and must be preserved at all costs…Okay, so that’s one for keeping the TV off and not sharing.

The bottom line, parents should do what feels right to them. But, who couldn’t use a little guidance when sharing? As for the waiting till kids ask questions, they may or may not, but talking about things in the right way always makes them a little less scary.

According to Common Sense Media in How to Talk to Kids About Difficult Subjects”, by Caroline Knorr, the author says “…it’s always a good idea to use your kid’s age and developmental stage as a guide to starting conversations, because kids absorb information differently as they grow from babies to teens.” Take a look at and their general guidelines for discussing any difficult subject with kids ages two through teen.

With an election coming up in November, Common Sense Media has some other suggestions for helping kids decipher “whether a claim or a charge is based in fact, an unsubstantiated smear, or typical campaign overstatement.”

Aside from parents helping their children navigate the news, there are lots of kid-friendly news sources out there; like HTE Kids NewsTime for Kids, Scholastic Kids Press Corps. and PBS Parents. These news websites break down the events of the day in age-appropriate terms, while avoiding some topics you may still not be ready for your age two – teen children to be exposed to.