IN the wake of several disasters in the world including the MH17 plane crash, Kinross Wolaroi School psychologist Rebecca Anderson has encouraged parents to limit their children’s exposure to traumatic images in the media.
Mrs Anderson believes over exposure can lead to anxiety, sadness and anger among children and believes parents must be proactive to maintain their children’s welfare.
“I don’t know that it’s about encouraging or discouraging [watching media] but I think we have to acknowledge that young people have amazing access to the media, they’ve got devices and smartphones and can access the media pretty much anytime, anywhere and the idea that they can be sheltered from it is quite naive,” she said.
“A younger child you would really want to be limiting their access to the media, but if your children are watching the news then make sure you are there and if you have the need to know about the news, then do it when the kids aren’t around.”
Mrs Anderson warned re-watching the same traumatic footage, for example the horror MH17 crash or acts of violence, can potentially cause children to relive the experience. She believes communication and reassurance is vital.
“If the children are exposed to it [traumatic events] then make sure you talk to them, ask them, what have you heard? What questions do you have? And ask them how they’re feeling?” she said.
“The main thing that children will need a lot of the time is reassurance for their own safety, that yes that has happened but however, you are quite safe here.
“Communication is very important.”
Kinross Wolaroi School staff do plenty to combat the impact traumatic media has on students, according to Mrs Anderson.
“As a school of faith we come together as a community to share, pray, support and be together in our sense of connectedness with others who are grieving,” she said.
“School life provides routine and structure which is reassuring for students.”
Parents should monitor their children for signs they are not coping, according to Mrs Anderson. These signs include anxiety, fearfulness, sleeping difficulties, crying and bedwetting.
If children are experiencing these symptoms, parents are encouraged to contact a specialist.