Tips for Parents on Media Coverage

While the media (television, radio, print, and the internet) can help inform and educate you and your children about the recent civil unrest in our country and community, media coverage unfortunately also has the potential to upset and confuse. As parents, you can protect your children by helping them understand media coverage while limiting their exposure to distressing images.

The impact of media coverage will be different depending upon whether you are:
* A family who have loved ones in the affected area 
* A family who has been affected by a violent event or trauma in the past 
* A family not directly threatened who is viewing news about the impact of this event on others (individuals injured or suffering)

Understanding Media Exposure
 
* Media coverage can produce increased fears and anxiety in children and teens. The more time children/teens spend watching coverage of the tragic event, the more likely they are to have negative reactions. 
* Graphic images and news stories of chaos and injury is especially upsetting to children. 
* Very young children may not understand that the coverage and repetition of images of the events is a replay. They may think the event is continuing to happen or is happening again. 

What Parents Can Do to Help
 
* Limit Your Children’s Exposure to Media Coverage
- The younger the child, the less exposure s/he should have. 
- You may choose to eliminate all exposure for very young children.
- Play DVDs or videotapes of their favorite shows or movies instead.
- Consider family activities away from television, radio, or internet.
* Watch and Discuss with Children/Teens
- Watch what they watch.
- Discuss the news stories with them, asking about their thoughts and feelings about what they saw, read, or heard and correct any misunderstandings or confusion.
- Ask older children and teens about what they have seen on the internet or what they have heard through social media technologies (text, Facebook, Twitter), in order to get a better sense of their thoughts, fears, concerns, and point-of-view. * * Seize Opportunities for Communication
- Use newsbreaks that interrupt family viewing or newspaper/web images as opportunities to open conversation. Be available to talk about children’s feelings, thoughts, and concerns, and reassure them of their safety and of plans to keep them safe.
 
Tips for Parents on Media Coverage National Child Traumatic Stress Network www.NCTSN.org


Extra Resources:

Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism
How do we teach our children anti-racism
Racism and Violence: How to Help Kids Handle the News
Social Justice: Fifteen Titles to Address Inequality, Equality, and Organizing for Young Readers
Talking to Kids About Discrimination
30 Books to Help You Talk to Your Kids About Racism