Sunday, January 13, 2013

Kids and the News: Good Idea, In Moderation, or No Freaking Way?

My eight-year-old daughter might just have more of a grasp on what's going on in the world than many adults do.  Or, at least, she's exposed to what's going on more than most.

I am not a morning person.  My weekday morning routine consists of getting jumped on by a black lab and a golden retriever (in that order) at 5:30 or so, letting them out, staggering to the Keurig to turn it on, feeding said dogs, operating the Keurig (usually ... sometimes I forget to put the K-cup in), letting the dogs in, putting Splenda and skim milk into my coffee, letting the dogs out again, urinating, letting the dogs in once again, staggering into the living room and turning on the news, and calling Belle down at six.

She and I snuggle and watch the news for 15-20 minutes.  We're both in half-asleep world.  I never dreamed she actually paid attention.

Belle has been watching the evening news with us since about halfway through last year as well.  She likes to know what's going on.  I'm good with that.

Or I thought I was.

The disaster at Sandy Hook gave me my first pause.  Was this something she really needed to see?  (I should note that my doubts were assuaged when they interviewed a child development expert who broke down the ages of how much to tell kids about ... Belle fell in the "if the parents think they can handle it, let them watch the news", which she totally agreed with)

So the idea has been on my mind a lot lately.

Something odd happened the other night, though ...

Even though I have the news on in the morning and at night, I get the lion's share of my information from reading news sites.  My auditory processing makes "watching" the news a less-than-ideal medium for me, so much of my phone usage is dedicated to reading the news.

Belle's latest obsession is my iPhone, and she's gotten to be downright nosy.  I was reading about the preliminary trial of the Aurora movie theater killer, and all of a sudden, I heard Belle say over my shoulder, "What's a trial?"

Because I am sometimes inarticulate, I drew her a picture.
I explained the whole concept of a trial to her, and then I wondered why I did that.  I wondered if I should have done that.  I wondered if there was any reason for this child to be aware what terrible things transpire in the world.

And I wondered, most of all, if she understood what I was talking about ... and if it will transfer into her increasingly complex thought process.

Oh, and, of course, should children be watching the news?  Is it worth the cans of worms it opens up?  Where is the line between "protection" and "fantasy world"?

I am proud of the connections Belle makes and her really very impressive knowledge, but I am very aware that the news is never a 100% happy experience.

What are your thoughts on this?