Dr Richard C. Woolfson
One of the downsides of today’s instant news era is that your primary school child hears about all the latest national and world events, whether you like it or not.
To some extent, you can monitor what she reads in newspapers or which news programmes she watches on TV. But when it comes to the Internet, or hearing from her pals who may have wider media access than her, there’s little you can do to protect her from having to hear ghastly news stories, whether they’re about foreign wars, natural disasters, transport crashes, terrible murders and sex offences.
Then she starts asking awkward questions like: “What is rape? Why do people explode bombs? Why did that man shoot those children at that school?” You want your kidto have an understanding of current affairs, but the problem is you have a hard time filtering out the bad stuff, which is usually the top news headlines.
By all means, make sure she isn’t glued to the TV or Internet all the time, but don’t try to censor the information she receives from these different sources.
First, that strategy won’t work because you can’t possibly block out all the information channels even if you wanted to.
Second, the minute you tell your child not to do something, her desire to do that increases – forbidden fruit is always much more enticing.
Third, you’ll spend more time checking up on her and she won’t like that as well.
Instead, aim to teach her basic skills that will help her understand the news more critically. Suggest that whenever she sees a report on the Internet or TV, or hears it from a classmate, she should ask you about it. She shouldn’t simply believe everything she comes across.
You don’t have to be anxious answering questions about rape, death, wars and disasters. Just give a reasonable reply as best you can and pitch it at the level of your kid’s understanding.
If you don’t know the answer, be honest with her and then search for more information together. In this way, your nine-year-old will become more news-savvy. For instance, she’ll learn that not all stories are accurate or as severe as initially thought, and that there are always two sides to a story.
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