On January 6th 2023, an earthquake measuring 7.1 magnitudes on the Richter scale struck the Elazig province in eastern Turkey. The quake caused significant damage to buildings, infrastructure and homes. At this time, it has tragically taken the lives of more than 4300 people in Turkey and Syria. This painful disaster makes us think of questions like “Can being exposed to distressing news harm children psychologically?” “Should parents stop watching the news while their children are present in the room?” or “Should they stop discussing the distressing events with their kids even if they are in the country where the disaster has taken place?”
Kids’ Exposure to Distressing News
Distressing news such as the recent earthquake in Turkey can be particularly difficult for children to understand. Therefore, parents should be aware of how their children may be processing the news. As a rule, we suggest being careful when watching TV with a child in the room. If you’re a parent with the habit of watching the news while your kid is present in the room, you should note that you may be risking your child’s mental health.
After each major and critical event, unfortunately, a lot of fake news goes viral on social media. This is something you should also look out for because it can confuse your child. Thankfully, you can avoid children’s exposure to distressing content on google searches or social media using parental control apps.
If your child is already exposed to distressing news one of the key things you can do is to monitor their behaviour and emotional state. You should be watchful for these signs in your child:
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in mood
If there are any signs of distress, you should talk to your child and discuss the event in a supportive and reassuring way.
How to Discuss Distressing News with Kids
When it comes to discussing distressing events with children, there is no one size fits all approach. You should take into account your child’s level of understanding and maturity, underlying psychological issues, and the severity of the news event. You should also be aware of your own emotional state and be mindful of how this may be affecting your kid. Ultimately, you should focus on providing your child with accurate information in an age-appropriate manner, while also reassuring them and providing emotional support.
Parents need to provide children with accurate information about news events, as this can help reduce anxiety and confusion. They should also reassure their children and focus on aspects of the news that highlight hope and resilience. It is important to consider the age of the child, as well as their level of understanding of the events, and any underlying psychological issues. It is important to keep the discussion with children calm and positive and to make it clear that the news has been taken in and processed.