Safeguarding children around news online
10 years ago, children and young people didn’t have access to the news in the same way that they do today. 10 years ago, parents and carers would have been much more likely to know if a child had seen news on the TV or used the home computer. Now though, with most children having their own devices or access to smartphones or tablets, parents won’t always know what news has been seen and read online.
News websites are rarely blocked and many feel that this is right because locking children out and removing exposure to real news events doesn’t help. In a world where we are encouraging our young people to become digital citizens, we should find ways to support them when reading the news and support them emotionally when something is upsetting.
Some tips on how to support a child in the wake of upsetting news:
- Ensure they have the facts
Unfortunately, after a news event, some news can be wrong by mistake or misinterpretation through social media. Fake news is designed to draw the reader in with more sensationalised titles and images, which are often not real or not from the event. Ensuring that the child can tell the difference between what is real and fake news will help.
- Talk to them
Talk to the child about the news so that they can ask you questions. Wait until you are calm and unrushed, so that you have time to talk about what they’ve read or seen online. When discussing the incident, try not to blame people but explain why the act or incident was bad.
- Don’t allow them to become absorbed
In the hours, days and even weeks following a news event, there will be no end of speculation and articles around it. This can be quite absorbing, but encouraging the child to keep it in context and keeping it in balance with other activities will help them.
Some useful articles on how to talk about news with children: