All Bad News In The Media - Is It Too Much For Kids?

I don't want my children to be subjected to too much bad news like I was as a child - but I also want them to be educated and informed. This is my dilemma



When I was growing up, my dad seemed to have the news on permanently in our house. If it wasn't breakfast news it was lunchtime news, or News at Ten, and if it wasn't on the TV, it was on the radio.

Constant bad news

The worst thing was when dad had Sky TV installed: of course this meant only one thing - constant news streaming, news going round and round in an endless loop. Even if the sound was muted, the perpetually moving red banner at the bottom of the screen would take over where the newsreader left off, injecting its white words of doom into the living room.

There was no escape. My brother and I referred to it as 'Bad News': "oh the Bad News is on again, Dad! How unusual!"

I vowed never to inflict this 'newsy' torture onto my own kids. My home would be full of fun and music and laughter, no bad news in my house. Sadly, I married another news addict and these best laid plans did not quite materialise.

Colouring-in to the news of violence

Although I can control my husband's news habit a bit better than my rather dictatorial dad's, I still find myself leaping out of my chair to turn down the volume on the kitchen radio long after my husband has left the room! (At times leaving his eight year old daughter happily colouring-in to the dulcet tones of an LBC presenter informing her of the latest evil mass murderer, terrorist attack or violent mugging.) Whilst on the surface she seems quite oblivious, busily working away, I know that, subliminally, she is taking this stuff in, just as I did as a kid, and it worries me.

How to shield our children

It's not as if I'm an overly protective mother. I know, and indeed want, my children to be educated and informed about what's going on the world, but it does make me cross that we're supposed to shield our little angels from the bad stuff - no viewing after the 9pm watershed, parental controls on games, and broadband shield on at home for example.

Yet it's perfectly fine to be able to switch on the TV or radio at any time of the day or night and expect children to listen to uncensored, graphic horror stories about baddies and evil people.

It's then left to us to pacify, reassure and explain to them that horrible stuff actually happens in real life but these things are very rare. But when they hear bad news every day, even from their favourite happy music station, I'm convinced this has a negative effect on them. My kids certainly worry, and so did I.

Yes, knowledge is power, but I do think the media needs to sort out some tighter controls over what they broadcast during the day.

Jayne, Working Mum and Freelance Editor

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