Too Much News Too Soon?
In our technologically-driven world, John F. Kennedy’s observation that, ‘The role of mass media in a modern society is to give people the comfort of an opinion without the discomfort of thought’, has never been more applicable.
Via their cell phones, today’s children have ready access to virtually anything in the palms of their hands. As parents or caregivers, it’s our role is to teach our children to think, to guide them through this deluge of information; or misinformation.
Ask your children what they know about current events; what they’ve learnt at school or, better still, on social media. And really listen. If they seem disinterested or reticent, don’t push. They’ll talk when they’re ready.
If your child asks a question that stumps you, Google it and, together, find the answer. It’ll be time well spent. And urge your children to speak up, especially about events that worry or scare them. Talking brings you closer and builds trust.
Encourage them to ‘read between the lines’ of a disturbing news story. Was it sensational, was it trying to boost viewership, or was it objective and factual? By doing this, you’re turning the story into a thoughtful discussion, you’re teaching your child to think!
Depending on their ages, it’s important to decide what and how much news is appropriate. Try not to have news playing all day in the background. Set limits on cell phone and social media use. Strike a balance!
Unfortunately, as the saying goes, bad news sells, good news doesn’t. Fortunately, good news stories do exist. Seek them out and share these positive stories with your children. If a tragedy happens, don’t stress the negative. Rather emphasise how many people are volunteering to help those who are affected. This way, you’re teaching your children good values and actions in the face of hardship.
The discomfort of thought dissipates through the comfort of action!