Avoid TV News!!: Finding the Real Answer

“My daughter experiences high levels of anxiety right before she goes to sleep.” Unfortunately anxiety in kids, from a variety of sources, is something that I’ve been seeing more and more in our community recently. I talk with Erica’s dad about her diet (specifically levels and timing of caffeine and sugar), and exercise (type and frequency). I learn that Erica participates in the basketball team at school, and has a low sugar and caffeine intake. I ask for some more information. “Well, she’s always been a really sensitive kid. Her friends come to her when they’re fighting and she helps work things out.” We speak a little bit about her friendships; is she care-taking too much? Perhaps worrying about her friends’ problems at night? Turns out Erica has done that from time to time, but not recently. I’m still uncertain about the trigger of her anxiety, so I ask about her after-school routine: snack, basketball practice, home, dinner, homework, TV, bed. I check in on how she’s doing in school; her grades are decent and she feels fairly confident in her academic skills. “What does she watch on TV?” I ask. “The news,” her dad explains. Now this is somewhat unusual; most teenagers don’t watch the news very often. “Erica has always been interested in current events. As a little girl she would collect her change and donate it to a variety of children’s charities. She was so curious about kids around the world we started watching the news together to learn more. It’s our father/daughter time.”

What Erica’s dad and I were able to put together is, as Erica moved from pre-teen (tween) to teenager, her emotional experience of the news changed. Although intellectually engaged with the stories and emotionally connected with her father, the pain and suffering she was witnessing every night impacts her differently. Erica and her dad talked and decided to make a big breakfast Sunday morning and catch up on the news shows then.

Sometimes something as simple as altering your schedule can shift your emotional wellbeing. It’s easy to slip into black and white thinking. News is Bad for Kids! TV Causes Anxiety!! Instead, take some time this week to explore what is going on under the feeling, and experiment with different choices. You might be surprised at how simple the solution really is.