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Kids and the news

Throughout my experience as a student, there are a few teachers I remember more vividly than others. One of them is my 5th and 6th grade math teacher, Mr. Tefft. Mr. Tefft perfectly played the role of the tough teacher who could also show compassion. He was a large, loud man, who once sneezed so loud that teachers from across the hall came into our class to jokingly check on us. Mr. Tefft was at his loudest when someone in the class didn’t do their homework. If you tried it but didn’t get it, he would help, but if you just blew it off, you (and the rest of the school) would hear about it. He wasn’t all drill sergeant though. He had a ping pong table and carrom boards in his room, and if you got your work done you could play. Going up against him in ping pong was the ultimate challenge.

So what does any of that have to do with kids watching the news? Mr. Tefft didn’t just want us to be good math students, he wanted us to be well informed people. He made it a point to take five minutes a day to verbally ask a current events question from the news the day before or that morning’s newspaper. Kids who raised their hand first and knew the answer got a candy bar on Fridays.

I thought about this a lot as we were getting ready for school/work Tuesday morning. We had on the news, and a story came on about some Air Force officer who was charged with sexual abuse. They showed his mean faced beaten up mug shot (apparently the victim was able to fight back some) and I hurried my son out of the room. It brought me back to the gruesome images of the dead marathon bomber’s body that also got displayed on the daytime news. I only casually watch news but I hear most often about murders, kidnappings, and robberies. Crime is certainly newsworthy and this is nothing new, but I don’t remember it being so prominent and so vividly covered. Also, with the decline of the actual newspaper and competition in both the local and national TV markets, the TV producers get to decide which stories to highlight and how much time each of them gets. As my son gets older I definitely want him to be informed and know what’s going on in our city, state, country, and world, but I’m not sure about letting him watch the news.

Any thoughts from readers? Do you let/encourage your kids to watch the news? How old do you think they need to be?

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Categories: fatherhood
  1. May 8, 2013 at 8:42 am

    My kids are now 5 and 7 and they do not watch the news. Even when we are watching PBS after school – when the PBS NewsHour comes on at 6, PBS goes off. We do share bits and pieces of newsworthy items with them and talk with them about them, but they don’t need to watch the news yet.

  1. May 8, 2013 at 12:19 pm

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