Do you let your children watch the news?

There is a lot of fuss made nowadays about internet safety and appropriate content online, but exactly how appropriate is it for us all to hear about the latest goings on in Syria, or the get updates on a rape trial, when we’re trying to enjoy a bowl of rice crispies or get on with a spot of homework?

According to a recent survey, (conducted by NetVoucherCodes.co.uk), over two thirds of parents actively prevent their children from watching the news. Violent images of conflicts or acts of terrorism were the most common reason parents gave for switching off the TV, closely followed by coverage of topics such as serious crime. A majority of mums and dads also admitted that their fear of being asked difficult questions by their children was a factor in not letting them watch the news. Around half of the parents surveyed felt that 11-12 was about the right age for introducing children to the news.

I have to confess that I try to avoid the news as much as possible. There is, to be quite frank, so much shit going on everywhere that I can’t possibly keep up, and definitely can’t do anything about most of it, so I really just don’t want to know. This drives Boyfriend mad, and I’m sure isn’t a very grown-up approach, but there you go, perhaps I am just not very grown-up.

It’s not that I don’t care. I boycott Nestle, I’ve trained as a breastfeeding counsellor, I sponsor a turtle and a child in Ethiopia, (the turtle isn’t in Ethiopia), but I can’t be expected to care about everything can I? There is too much of it.

Too much news

Watching the news makes me sad. I may be naive but I just don’t understand why all of this bad stuff has to happen, how we as human beings have let ourselves get into such a mess. If I watched or read the news every day I’m not sure I could carry on doing all the normal everyday things that seem so stupid in comparison. Who am I to complain about only having skimmed milk in my tea or having to wait in line a bit at the post office? I should just be grateful I’m not having my face melted with nerve gases or being forced to marry a 40 year old man and carry his children at 13.

I cry at the VW advert where the daughter grows up and leaves home.

The news is too much.

And if it’s too much for me, is it any wonder that most parents are worried that it’s too much for their children?

The trouble is though, that as much as I might want to hide behind a nice middle class wall of Twitter, hummus and the Great British Bake Off, all of this shit is happening. All over the place. All of the time. Should we really be shielding our children from what is simply the reality of life? Do we have a duty as parents to teach them the cold hard facts and prepare them for adulthood?

What do you think? Do you let your children watch the news? How young is too young?

12 comments on “Do you let your children watch the news?

  1. Donna says:

    We had Sky News on, in the background the afternoon that the horrendous attack on Lee Rigby in Woolwich happened, that coverage, although was obviously big headlining, my 3yr old standing transfixed to the screen before I’d realised what was unfolding, with a man with blood on his hands, was too much. No warning about the images that were coming up.

    It was off, immediately, I caught up later in the evening, I believe we shouldn’t live in a bubble that the worlds a happy place, but when images such as those can be streamed at 3-4in the afternoon, without warning is not something young children need to see.

    Thankfully he accepted my silly explanation of what was happening and went about his playing,

  2. Your sister says:

    It is one parenting thing that I actually feel quite strongly about. I clearly remember watching news coverage in the 80′s of Chernobyl, the Ethiopian famine, the fire in King’s Cross underground and Hilsborough. Chernobyl was April 86 so I wasn’t even 4! You know how I turned out! The stories and images really stuck with me, even now and I remember asking why none of the news reporters we’re helping, I just couldn’t get my head around the concept of such horrible things so easily happening all around us and (like everything else I encountered!) it scared me. For this reason I don’t like the children watching or hearing it. I think there is plenty of time to learn about the harsh realities of life and 2 and 4 is not it. I really believe in telling children the truth and not pretending everything is wonderful but Finn cried when I explained the concept of prison the other day so he’s not ready to see children gassed to death, rape trials or even worse, George Osborne’s face.

  3. Louisa @ My Family & Abruzzo says:

    We don’t watch the news often ourselves really. We know enough to be informed, but it is so damn depressing. I do want my boys to be aware of the world and reality, but not at 1 and 5!

  4. emma burgham says:

    My 9 year old often overhears the news on the radio and just yesterday was saying that he didn’t understand why people murder and it makes him worried :(

  5. Katie says:

    I feel similar in that if I watched the news on a daily basis, I find myself sinking into an anxious depression. Trying to cope with everyday life while having a panic that I need to be doing something else, somewhere else and feel that somehow it’s up to me alone. There is NO WAY I want my children seeing or hearing some of the things on the main news. They are children and they need to be allowed to enjoy their childhood as long as they can. So the same goes for soap operas and other junk that doesn’t have to be on when they are around. I do sometimes miss watching naughties in the day but it’s a small price to pay for my children’s mental well being. That being said, I encourage them to watch and pay attention to CBBC Newsround and try to talk to them about certain World events as it is their world too and they need to be world wary. Personally, I find it more manageable to read the news daily, rather than watching.

  6. Cheryl says:

    I would love to live in a bubble, but real life doesn’t really allow it. We tend to talk about the news they hear, leaving out the more graphic parts, but enough for them to understand and not be frightened. I dread the times when they come home and start with a “Is it true…” Something they’ve heard, or half heard, in the playground. I’ve long realised that not all parents draw the same line in the sand.

    When the shooting in Baltimore happened last year, we kept the news coverage to zero. Potentially a frightening concept to any school child (and parent). I braced myself for the questions when they returned from school. None. Abolutely none. From subtly questioning, I gathered it was never mentioned by anyone. Maybe there is a universal line after all.
    Cheryl recently posted…Crafty CreaturesMy Profile

  7. Dawn Frazier says:

    I’m quite often reading the news on my laptop when at least one of my twin daughters sits down with me. They are quite curious and often ask questions about what I’m reading about. I try to answer in a brief but honest way without going into too much detail. My girls are only 6 so they only really need the basic facts. I don’t think it harms them to know that bad stuff happens, but I always remind them that, if there were a news programme to report all the good stuff, there would never be enough time. It’s only the bad stuff that makes the news.
    Dawn Frazier recently posted…Tax breaks for married couplesMy Profile

  8. Nicky Richards says:

    My nan could never understand why I didn’t watch the news when my brother was in Afghanistan. I told her I was scared enough as it was for his safety without watching all of the horrific news on the TV! I never watch the news, it’s all too sad. I don’t mind hearing it on the radio though, without all of the pictures.

  9. […] someone who doesn’t really like to read the news, having to face up to the fact that the earth is blighted with war, fire, sandstorms and what not […]

  10. Molly says:

    As someone who works closely with the deceased on a regular basis i am more than aware how cruel the world can be.

    I would like to give my Son and my (currently unborn) baby a carefree childhood, however i also want them to grow up with an understanding that the world can be dangerous and grounded enough for them to be aware of their own safety. My father allowed me to watch the news from a young age and whenever i asked why he always answered truthfully.

    Molly
    Molly recently posted…Poop explosion extraordinaireMy Profile

  11. Carrie-Anne says:

    I have to news on whilst getting ready for work but when we go down for breakfast the children’s channels go on. I do turn the news on for major news stories and my 6 year old will ask questions and I tell her what is going on. She needs to know the world isn’t a perfect world and horrific sad things happen all the time. But saying that both mine are shielded pretty much. We have children’s channels or films on the TV until they go to bed then we put ‘adult’ TV on!! A lot programmes including the news are not child friendly!

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