It's never occurred to me to turn off the news whilst my children are around. For the most part, they're not paying any attention to it and it goes over their heads. Well that's the way it has been for the past few years. Now they are getting older (4 and 5) I'm more aware that it's just not appropriate for them as whilst they used to ignore it, I've noticed they are paying more and more attention.
I was and remain surprised that the 6'o'clock news is so sensationalist and graphic. After all 6pm isn't that late in the scheme of things and I imagine the majority of children up and down the country haven't yet gone to bed. I don't see why that news bulletin can't be toned down a little and leave the graphic stuff until 10pm.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not one to shelter my children and I will talk to them about new stories - they know that bad things happen but recently at tea-time we've been treated to Colonel Gaddafi's bleeding corpse being paraded on TV (which is a whole other rant, the Gaddafi coverage was particularly alarming as his dead body was everywhere you looked - we cover naked breasts on the front of a magazine, but a gruesome image of a dead man is fine to plaster over newspapers sitting next to children's magazines in the local Co-op) and the burning carnage of the M5 crash. Alongside this we get treated to child abductions, rapes, gun crimes, murders...all of which are the stuff of nightmares. Last night my 5 year old woke up crying at 3am because she'd had a dream about a "bad lady putting her in a van". My children understand about war. We watched the service at The Cenotaph and talked about it. They don't need to see someone's head being blown off to appreciate the horrors of war. Come to think of it, neither do I.
Now I know it's my place, as the parent, to censor watch my children watch, and I do. Since I've noticed my almost-6-year-old paying more and more attention to the news and asking me questions about war and murder, the TV gets turned off or switched over to something more pleasant like Jake & The Neverland Pirates BUT sometimes my children want to watch the news and I'd like them to be able to learn about what is going on in the world, just without too many gory details.
Whilst I think it's good to have an understanding of what goes on, I also want to protect their innocence. After all, they are little children for such a short time, there's plenty of time to become more aware about the nastiness of life.
I'm not saying that there isn't a "safe" option for children, there is - Newsround is a good option for children and one I will probably encourage as they get older, but even looking at the website today, the first picture is of someone smoking (they're talking about the suggestion that smoking should be banned in cars). My children are oblivious to smoking, seriously, so it would become another can of worms.
I don't want to overly protect and shelter my children but I would like to switch the TV on at 6pm and not be presented with gruesome deaths. I understand that news reports are aimed at adults but so early in the evening, I'd like my news to come with a spoonful of sugar. Is that too much to ask?
love & kisses
Mrs M x