While the media (television, radio, print, and the internet) can help inform and educate you and your children about the recent shootings and violence, media coverage unfortunately also has the potential to upset and confuse. As parents, you can protect your children by helping them with these six tips from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network:
- Limit Your Children’s Exposure to Media Coverage
- The younger the child, the less exposure she/he should have.
- You may choose to eliminate all exposure for very young children.
- Play DVDs or videotapes of their favorite shows or movies instead.
- Consider family activities away from television, radio, or internet.
- Watch and Discuss with Children/Teens
- Watch what they watch.
- Discuss the news stories with them, asking about their thoughts and feelings about what they saw, read, or heard and correct any misunderstandings or confusion.
- Ask older children and teens about what they have seen on the internet or what they have heard through social media technologies (text, Facebook, Twitter), in order to get a better sense of their thoughts, fears, concerns, and point-of-view.
- Seize Opportunities for Communication
- Use newsbreaks that interrupt family viewing or newspaper/web images as opportunities to open conversation. Be available to talk about children’s feelings, thoughts, and concerns, and reassure them of their safety and of plans to keep them safe.
- Monitor Adult Conversations
- Be careful of what you and other adults say about the recent shooting or the media coverage in front of the children; children often listen when adults are unaware and may misunderstand what they hear.
- Let Your Children Know about Successful Community Efforts
- You may want to share positive media images, such as reports of individuals helping those in need.
- Reassure your children/teens that many people, organizations, and governments are working to help the people. This will give them a sense that adults are actively taking steps to protect those that are currently suffering.
- Educate Yourself
- Learn about children’s reactions to traumatic events. For more information, see National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN.org).
Craig Rens is the Director of Solutions Counseling Services in St. Michael, MN. Solutions Counseling has 16 licensed clinicians providing individual, couples, and family therapy for all ages. For more information on Solutions Counseling Services, visit GetCounseling.org.