KIDS AND THE NEWS
More than ever, children see innumerable, sometimes traumatizing,
news events on TV. It seems that violent crime and bad news is unabating.
Foreign wars, natural disasters, terrorism, killers, incidents of child abuse,
and medical epidemics flood our newscasts daily. Not to mention the grim
influx of recent school shootings.
All of this intrudes on the innocent world of kids. If, as psychologists
say, kids are like sponges and absorb everything that goes on around them,
how in a big way does watching TV news actually affect them? How careful do
parents need to be in monitoring the movement of news into the home, and exactly how can
they find an approach that works?
To answer these questions, we turned to a panel of experienced anchors, Peter
Jennings, Maria Shriver, Linda Ellerbee, and Jane Pauley–each having faced the
complexities associated with raising their own vulnerable children in the news-saturated
Picture this: 6: 30 p. m. After an exhausting day at the office, Mom is busy
making dinner. She parks her 9-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son in front
of the TV.
“Play Nintendo until dinner’s ready, inch she instructs the little ones, that,
instead, start flipping channels.
Mary Brokaw on “NBC News This evening, ” announces that an Atlanta gunman
has killed his wife, daughter and son, all three having a hammer, before going on
a shooting rampage that leaves nine deceased.
On “World News Tonight, inch Peter Jennings reports that a large jetliner with
more than 300 people crashed in a spinning metal fireball at a Hong Kong
On CNN, there’s a report about the earthquake within Turkey, with 2, 000
On the Discovery channel, which timely special on hurricanes and the
terror they create in children. Hurricane Dennis has already struck, Floyd is
Finally, they get a local news report about a painting tool coaster accident at a New
Shirt amusement park that kills the mother and her eight-year-old child.
Nintendo was never this captivating.
“Dinner’s ready! ” shouts Mother, unaware that her children may be terrified
by this menacing potpourri of TV news.
What’s incorrect with this picture?
“There’s a LOT wrong with it, but it’s not that effortlessly fixable, ” notes Linda
Ellerbee, the creator and host of “Nick News, ” the award winning news
program geared for kids age groups 8-13, airing on Nickelodeon.
“Watching blood and gore on TV is NOT good for kids and it doesn’t perform
much to enhance the lives of adults either, ” says the particular anchor, who strives to
inform children about world events with out terrorizing them. “We’re into
stretching out kids’ brains and there’s nothing we all wouldn’t cover, ” including
current programs on euthanasia, the Kosovo crisis, prayer in schools, book-
banning, the death penalty, plus Sudan slaves.
But Ellerbee emphasizes the necessity of parental supervision, protecting
children from unfounded fears. “During the Oklahoma City bombing, there
were terrible images of children being harm and killed, ” Ellerbee recalls. “Kids
wanted to know if they were safe in their beds. In studies conducted by
Nickelodeon, we found out that kids find the news one of the most frightening thing
“Whether it’s the Gulf War, the Clinton scandal, a downed jetliner, or what
happened in Littleton, you have to reassure your children, over and over again,
that they’re going to end up being OK–that the reason this story will be news is that IT
ALMOST NEVER HAPPENS. Information is the exception… nobody goes on the air
happily and reports how many planes landed safely!
“My job would be to put the information into an age-appropriate context and lower
anxieties. After that it’s really up to the parents to monitor what their kids watch
and discuss this with them”
Yet a new research of the role of media within the lives of children conducted by
the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation reveals that 95% of the nation’s children
ages 8-18 are watching television without their parents present.
So how exactly does Ellerbee view the typical scenario from the harried mother above?
“Mom’s having a beating here. Where’s Dad? inch Ellerbee asks. Perhaps at work,
or living separately from Mom, or even absent altogether.
“Right. Most Parents are working as hard as they may because we
live in a culture where one income just won’t cut it anymore, ”
NBC News correspondent Maria Shriver, mom of four–Katherine,
13, Christina, twelve, Patrick, 10, and Christopher, 6–agrees with Ellerbee: “But
normally are not using the TV as a babysitter due to the fact they’re out getting manicures! inch
says the 48-year-old anchor.
“Those mothers are struggling to make ends meet and they do it because
they need help. I don’t think kids would be viewing [as much TV] if their
moms and dads were home organizing a touch soccer game.
“When I need the TV as being a babysitter, ” says Shriver, which leaves detailed TV-
viewing guidelines behind when traveling, “I put on a safe video. I no longer mind
that my kids have watched “Pretty Woman” or “My Greatest Friend’s Wedding”
3, 000 periods. I’d be more fearful if they watched an hour of local news. That will
would scare them. If you’re ready to learn more in regards to naijaloaded news visit the web site.
They might really feel: ‘Oh, my God, is someone going to come
in and capture me in my bedroom? ‘”
In the move to supervise her own children a lot more closely since her husband,
Arnold Schwarzenegger, became Governor, Shriver