Keeping children safe from scary images on screens

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Children around a computer screen

Children around a computer screen

As parents, it often seems that every time we turn on the news there are frightening images and sounds. Our hearts at Technology in Early Childhood Center (TEC) at Erikson Institute go out to families, colleagues and friends in the US and across the globe when crises occur, but as child development experts we are also mindful of the needs of young children who may be exposed to many of the images and sounds that are broadcast across every digital and print medium all too frequently. As leading experts in child development and the use of technology with children and families, Erikson and the TEC Center are here to help parents and the adults in children’s lives be media mentors and advocates for your children.

Here are 5 tips to help keep your children away from the scary images that are on many screens, radio broadcasts, newspapers, and magazines:

• Pause and think before you turn on a radio, television or tech device. Turn off the news and screens with frightening images when your children are present. Be mindful and be present with your children.

Be mindful of media in the background when you are out and about. Kindly ask a restaurant manager to turn the channel if you are dining out and they have the news on and your children are in viewing or listening distance. Distract your children when walking past newsstands or the magazine racks in grocery stores.

Check and set parental and safe search controls through restricted access on YouTube and Google SafeSearch. How-to instructions for YouTube and Google SafeSearch

Keep comforting routines consistent as children often sense and know when parents are stressed or discussing something difficult.

Look for the helpers. Take time to talk and read books about all of the positive people doing good things in the world to keep us safe such as firefighters, police officers, teachers, and other trusted adults. In the words of Fred Rogers,”When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

Reach out to the TEC Center on Twitter if you need any more advice!

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