Commentary

Do You Let Your Kids Watch The News?

You know what sucks?  I have two young boys and I can’t let them watch the news.  Ever.

When I was a kid, part of our homework was to watch the evening news and learn about current events.  We were tasked to come to school and be ready to offer updates or insights into what was going on in the world.

I remember stories about famine in Africa and revolutions in foreign countries.  I recall the fall of the Berlin Wall along with local events about mayors, governors and more.  

What I don’t remember is being so angry or so afraid of what was going on in the world.  I certainly don’t remember my parents having to turn off the TV for fear that my innocent little mind would be soiled by stories of misogyny by public officials, hate crimes of horrible magnitude in small towns, shootings at schools every week, abductions and enslavement of teenagers or any of the disgusting, repulsive things that I see on the TV news when I happen to stumble upon it from time to time.

The evening news is no longer appointment viewing due to the 24 hour, completely immersive news cycle we currently live in.  When I do see it, I am scared to death to let my kids watch it.  If you were an alien who had just come to this planet and decided to watch the evening news to understand our culture, you would immediately hop back on your ship and get out of here — because things pretty much  seem doomed.

I love my kids.  I want them to grow up smart and strong.  I want them to be successful, and not sheltered from the world.  I want them to know that some people have more than others, that some people are not treated fairly and that they can make the world a better place through hard work, love and a great attitude.  

My problem is that when I watch or read the news, I wonder if we’re making it fair or even possible for them.  How can they make the world a better place when we’re screwing it up so badly?  How can we expect them to be successful or treat people fairly and with compassion when all they ever see in the “news” are stories of hate, bigotry, sexism, violence and pain?  It’s a Sisyphysian task, to say the least.

I’m writing this because if you’re reading this, there’s at least a good chance you work in or around media in some fashion.  You may work at a publisher or you may spend money with them.  You may be able to influence the folks that report the news and ask them a simple question:  “Is there anything good to report”?

I would like to allow my kids to watch the news and see some good along with the bad.  I’m OK with showing them “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly,” but I would prefer that to “The Bad, The Ugly and The Horrific” every night!  

From my personal perspective, bad times bring out the good in people.  As an example, the current state of politics is shining a light on so many things that our culture had previously swept under the rug and never dealt with.  Now we’re being forced to address these issues, and that’s good.  

Maybe we will come out better for having reconciled and rectified these things!  Maybe there are good stories out there for us to find and share, so that when my kids watch or read the news, they find a sliver of light or a fragment of hope that they can latch onto and use as motivation for the future?

Maybe I’m being optimistic, but that’s how I was raised and that’s how I want to raise my two sons.  Don’t you?

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