SUNDAY FEATURE: Is the news too scary for kids?

CreditTiago Majuelos

How, and when, to introduce current events to your children

By Paul L. Underwood | The New York Times

Confession: I am sometimes jealous of the news-free bubble in which my 5-year-old daughter resides. She barely knows that there is a Greenland, let alone that our president apparently offered to buy it. That must be nice.

And yet, I am also aware that responsible parenting means introducing the news to her media diet. After all, I wasn’t that much older than she is when I started reading “Calvin and Hobbes,” which put me on a path to both a career in journalism and a profound sense of the responsibilities of local and global citizenship. Simply put, the news offers an easy way to explore our world, in all its senseless beauty and violence.

And what violence: The news can be as vulgar and upsetting as any Quentin Tarantino movie. How could I responsibly introduce her to the joys, but not the terrors? And when? To solve this conundrum, I spoke with a range of experts including child psychologists; the lead author of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ policy statement “Media and Young Minds”; and the authorities at Common Sense Media, the go-to resource for parents ushering their children through this new age of media. What they told me confirmed my gut feeling — that my daughter is still too young to deliberately consume the news. But she’s old enough that some of it will get to her no matter what, so I need to be prepared to have conversations with her so she can experience it appropriately. Here are some more tips I gleaned from those conversations.


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