I went to a mums’ night out on Saturday – tasty food, fabulous company and stimulating conversation.
The topic around the table soon turned to current affairs in Australia.
The past few weeks have seen the Australian public recoil in horror from certain events in the news. First, entertainer Rolf Harris was found guilty of all 12 counts of sexual assault; then, the murder trail of Allison Bayden-Clay by her husband unfolded; and lastly, 37 Australians (among 298 passengers) lost their lives when Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down in Ukraine.
Unlike today where the news is available 24×7, during my childhood, there was no round-the-clock television. If you wanted to know the news, you had to be old enough to read the newspaper (only after your parents and grand-parents had their turn!). The news on TV was relegated to the 9pm slot and most kids were too sleepy by then.
But today, there’s a constant barrage of information – on your car’s radio during school drop-offs, online with just a swipe of your forefinger, and of course, on TV.
Some mums said they make sure the TV is never on during news hour, watching it after the kids are tucked into bed. Their (valid) argument is that reality is too graphic and ghastly for their kids to process. Let’s face it, 80 per cent of the news is bad news – murder and mayhem, robbery and rape, crime and corruption, death and destruction… Disasters make headlines.
I allow my kids to catch bits and pieces of the news if the telly happens to be on. My argument is that this is life – they need to come to grips with the world around them. A world that can be violent and frightful on one hand, but even compassionate and joyous on the other.
Of course, it also depends on your child’s personality. If you know your child is going to have nightmares after, say, watching clips of floods or famine, err on the side of caution.
Make sure your kids can talk about what you’ve watched on TV. Discuss it, get their point of view, allay their fears and assure them that they are safe.
So tell me, do you think children should watch news programs? Did you watch the news when you were a child? How old were you?