When I was growing up, the 6 o’clock news was an evening fixture in our house. Dinner would finish and my Mum & Dad would retire to the living room to watch it. I grew up in Belfast and while I’m lucky enough to have missed the worst part of The Troubles, I was a regular witness to riot vans, burning hijacked vehicles and soldiers on my street. It’s pretty hard to shelter a kid when the town they live in is at the tail end of a long war.
However, I find myself a parent now and personally, I am, to say the least… Uncomfortable… With Ethan watching the news. Much like my own parent’s household, my in-laws like to watch the news. And Ethan likes to watch it with them. I’ll be honest and say that it only really dawned on me that he was absorbing the information one day when we were walking through a local wood. There had recently been a tragic accident where a little girl was killed by falling logs.
On our nice casual walk, Ethan turned to me and said: “Mummy, I won’t go near the logs or I’ll get crushed and be dead”.
Needless to say, hearing my three-year-old son talk about a concept that I had no idea he was aware of was quite confronting. I then asked my in-laws to kindly not watch the news with Ethan in the room.
Gavin and I actively choose not to watch the news. We aren’t ignorant, we get our world and local news from other sources. I just find a TV screen with 98% chaos and negative messaging too much to take in. I’m the kind of person that cries at adverts and watching the news often leaves me stewing over the state of the world for the rest of the evening. I get too invested in it.
Knowing that this is my own reaction, I feel like I should steer Ethan clear too.
I suppose you could argue that he could become too sheltered. But I try to combat this by giving him full and honest (but age appropriate) explanations to any questions he asks. Recently we’ve had questions like “what is war?”, “why do we eat meat?” and “are guns for killing people?”. Parenting really is heavy techno at times.
I guess what I’d love is a discussion, because I have a feeling there are going to be different views on this one.
Do you let your kids watch the news?
Do you shelter them from it?
Have you just never thought about it?