How to Help Your Kids Escape News Cycle Trauma

Parents are hit with the news message, “Watch out! The world's dangerous!” and pass this on to their kids. How can we help our kids grow up without fear?

Years back my wife got a great gig at a news magazine heading their digital advertising. It was technical work demanding high creativity. She was perfect. We had in mind that in any new job, you should expect emotional kickback. Even something like a promotion predicts depression. Sure, it’s amazing and the pay is phenomenal but you lose a lot. You leave behind your network of friends, maybe some resent you for your success (or their failures), your familiar surroundings vanish, and when you pack up to move into the new high-rise office you break your favorite mug. Everything has a price… even success.

The emotional kickback for my wife was far darker. She was exposed, nonstop, to the newsreel – terrorist attacks, murders, hiking fatalities, all nonstop. Countering this, she subscribed to a positive-new-only newsletter. Surprisingly, we learned mainstream media was painting a grossly disproportionate picture of the world. It turns out on every measure of human suffering things are not only dramatically improving – they’re improving at exponential rates. Tracking over 200 years there’s a continually speeding decrease in murder, crime, violence, war, disease, and famine. We’re even less likely to get hit by lightning!

One statistic caught my eye, though. In the US, anxiety and depression amongst teens is slightly increasing over recent decades. While there’s a lot of factors, social psychologists have found one is the 24/7 newsfeeds and its effects on how parents treat their kids. Like my wife starting at Mishpacha, parents are hit with the message, “Watch out! The world is dangerous!” passing this on in how they talk, create rules, and behave with their kids. It’s a tough problem to compensate for since you also need to know what’s going on in the world. Two strategies are worth trying out. First, staying informed is your best defense like my wife did. Living in Israel we can all relate to the experience of rolling our eyes at our chutznik relatives with what they see in the news. “No, we don’t live in a war zone, bubby. You should come visit.” Second, no question you have to keep you kids safe and must learn to effectively do that, but count and see how many times you warn them something is, “very dangerous.” Ask yourself, if the frequency of this message make them safer or more anxious.

Yonasan Bender, SW graduated from Hebrew University’s School of Social Work. He has his psychotherapy practice at The Place: The Jerusalem Centre for Emotional Wellbeing. To share your thoughts, experiences, questions, or a different perspective, you can reach Yonasan Bender at 053-808-0435 or email him by clicking HERE. To learn more about him and his work, click HERE.

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The Place is where therapists, individuals and the community connect to create safety, strength and success. At The Place, men and women discover the freedom and safety to move past those issues which are preventing them from living life to its fullest. Our goal is to help each of our clients discover his or her own strengths as powerful tools in the healing process.

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At The Place, male and female therapists work independently or as a team to explore sensitive issues and facilitate positive change for individuals, couples and families from all sectors of the community. Some of our specialties include emotional eating, grief counseling, internet addiction, phobias, anxiety & OCD, childhood challenges, premarital counseling, couples therapy and intimacy issues, postpartum support, personality disorders, psychiatric care, and more. Connect with a caring professional in person at our comfortable Jerusalem offices, or by video, phone, and text. We’re here for you.

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