Violence and News Coverage is a very hot topic. I’m sure anyone would be able to answer the question of “where were you when 9/11 happened?”. I actually happened to be getting ready for my own therapy appointment the morning that the Twin Towers were hit. As I drove by the lookout point in West Orange by the Eagle Rock Reservation, I saw dozens if not hundreds of people looking out to Manhattan where black smoke had filled the skyline. These major events can stay with us for years to come.
Many years back when President Kennedy was assassinated, the world was a much different place. Television, radio, and newspapers were our primary sources of information. Nowadays, it’s almost impossible to be completely cut off from the various streams of information – we can’t get away from it sometimes. On top of television and newspapers, our information comes from multiple sources, both formal and informal. Think of the story about the late comedian Robin Williams. Within hours, Facebook, Twitter, and so many other social media outlets picked up the story. Pundits weighed in, people were personally relating and sharing their stories in every arena.
When there are riots, shootings, or other horrible events, people rely on their smartphones to take videos and photos, live-tweeting, “Instagramming”, and whatever else you can name. The problem with this is that we, as well as our children, are constantly surrounded by information, much of which is negative and stressful. It begins to invade our own personal sense of safety. How do we safeguard ourselves as well as the kids in our lives to mitigate this impact? The American Psychological Association suggests the following:
- Talk to your children. Have an age-appropriate conversation with your children and teens about what they have seen and heard. Explain and correct any rumors or misinformation.
- Be mindful and create limits. You may want to limit your media intake of stressful events, and you can also ensure that your children are not constantly taking in this information as well. If you do watch the news or stories of an event, be mindful of where your children are when watching and turn off the television or computer if need be. Consider planning how much TV or computer time you and your family need.
- Think solutions. How can you and your children participate in a meaningful way with a solution, such as writing letters, making donations, volunteering, or other ways to give back to your community.
- Take a break and find a balance. Despite being or feeling surrounded by bad news, go for a walk or hike, have lunch with a friend, meditate, practice yoga, or connect with others at work. These activities help us stay grounded and feel connected in a world where our connections on social media can feel overwhelming and somewhat superficial.
If you, your children, or someone close to you is struggling with coping with violence and news coverage, it could be very helpful to talk with a therapist about your concerns. You can call our intake department at Specialized Therapy Associates at 201-488-6678 about options to work with a therapist that’s right for you.