In a world where children are exposed to the most tragic news, parents are being advised to try and regulate what their kids are watching.
In an era where news is easily accessible to anyone at any time, children have the potential to be subjected to more horrific images from around the world than previous generations.
The Australian Psychological Society (APS) suggests that parents should limit the time children watch media coverage of disturbing situations, such as tragedy and terror. According to APS, studies show that children exposed to violence through a screen are more likely to behave aggressively, think aggressively and have no sympathy for victims of violence.
Preschool teacher, Carlene Trainor, believes children today are much more aware of tragedy than the children she taught five years ago.
“They are more exposed,” Mrs Trainor told The Newsroom. “They know a lot more about what is happening news-wise and what’s going on around them.”
Mrs Trainor explained she brought in an Eiffel Tower model to educate her class on Bastille Day and a four and five-year-old approached her about the recent attacks in Nice.
“They said to me, ‘that’s where all those children got killed when they were watching the fireworks’. That’s a lot of information for a four-year-old to have, they must’ve seen something,” she said.
Primary school teacher, Christine Croker, thinks children are being exposed to media-driven tragedies – warping their perceptions of religion and terrorism.
“I think they are being exposed to media deception on tragedies,” she said. “I taught year 3 last year, and I did a unit which was part of the curriculum called people and their beliefs, looking at people and their beliefs, rather than the religion, and just giving them the basic facts.
“Yet as soon as you mention Islam, the kids go ‘ISIS’. Without an understanding of the greater picture, the only time they have heard the word ‘Islam’ mentioned is in association with ISIS.
“Their perception and understanding is limited because it’s what they see on the news and what the news is pushing at that point in time.”
APS has guidelines on how to assist children who are frightened by events and media coverage.
It advises that if children are watching coverage of something traumatic, parents watch it with them, to assure nothing bad will happen to them personally and they are safe.
However, the news may not be the only form of media that could potentially be detrimental to one’s childhood. The APS also advises parents to play close attention to the content of the movies, TV shows and digital games their children play and being aware of the implications of exposure to violence. – Ashleigh Cant
Top image from commemorative meme circulated on the internet after the November massacre, 2015.