The suspected terrorist attack on London which left three people and their assailant dead and many more injured has made us all feel shocked, appalled and saddened.
After the news broke, many of us, including me, felt the need to turn the news on. To find out what was happening. To try to make sense of it all. To know whether those we loved were in danger. To understand whether a car hitting many so people on Westminster bridge was a deliberate act or a horrible coincidence, happening at almost the same time that a police officer was stabbed within the grounds of the Palace of Westminster, the seat of our democracy.
My children, aged four and two were in the room with me when I turned BBC News on. I did wonder whether the eldest would notice what was happening on the TV – normally the second CBeebies is on, they are both goggling at it – but they carried on playing and didn’t notice the terrible events unfolding on screen: ambulances, people on stretchers, a car crashed into railings, people helping the wounded; chaos and fear against the picture-perfect backdrop of Big Ben and red buses.
Last night in The Motherload® Facebook community, the discussion naturally turned to the day’s events when Meera posted:
So I’m curious, at what age to people start letting their children watch the news? I have a 5 year old and a 3 year old and Daddy was just starting to explain what has happened in London to my 5 year old, not in great detail at all, but the fact that people were hurt by somebody else was mentioned. Now as much as I want my little ones to grow up knowing about the world, whether good or bad, I really want to keep them little and innocent for as long as possible…feeling a bit torn. What do you MOLOs do in your homes about watching the news?
The discussion which followed was really interesting; some members avoid the news completely, others feel it’s important to be honest with children but to tell them about news events in an age-appropriate way. Some use BBC Newsround and The Week newspaper. Others remembered being exposed to the news when they were children; I remember being terrified by the manhunt for the Yorkshire Ripper at the age of five, but less frightened by major news events such as the Brighton Bombing four years later, and later still the Zebrugge Ferry disaster, Lockerbie and Hillsborough seared themselves forever on my adolescent brain but didn’t seem to frighten or damage me.
So at what age do you let your children watch the news, when there is something as serious as a terrorist attack, or a major disaster? Here’s what our members had to say:
About Alison McGarragh-Murphy
Alison writes and edits stuff for The Motherload®, and is also a radio producer and broadcast journalist, a mum of two and a wife of one. Since becoming a mother she has (mostly) gladly swapped a busy social life of gigs, pubs, art galleries and museums for dancing in the kitchen, drinking on the sofa, finger painting and hanging out at the park. She talks incessantly about not having slept for four years.