By Amanda Hoh
Parents are being advised to manage how much their children are exposed to the news by experts who acknowledge it is more difficult than ever to protect them from exposure to violence.
Educators and medical professionals came together on Monday in Sydney for a conference to discuss how the media shaped public perceptions of violence and how the reporting of violence impacted individuals.
Dr Wayne Warburton, who presented at the conference and is a developmental psychologist and deputy director of the Families Research Centre at Macquarie University, advised parents to filter the media platforms their children were exposed to.
“I’d be really reluctant to let kids see what’s happening on the news,” Dr Warburton said.
“What happened in Nice — there were live feeds going on at the time.
“I think it’s really hard to justify having kids see that sort of stuff live on television; how do you explain that stuff to a child? It’s really terrifying.”
How do you explain what's going on?
Dr Warburton said the media was one of the biggest influences on children's lives, with data showing Australian kids spend an average of five hours and 10 minutes a day with entertainment media or online.
"Exposure to violent media, over a period of time ... you start to see the world as being more violent than it actually is, that people are more hostile than they really are," he said.
"Adult news tends to sensationalise and not put a context around things.
"But for young kids, you hear all the scary stuff but you don't hear the context and know that 'where I live that's not realistic'."
A mother's story
702 ABC Sydney listener Ann experienced this with her son when he was five years old.
She said when the September 11 terrorist attacks occurred in New York, her son saw the news reporting of it for a few minutes in the morning before going to school.
Later that day, she said there was a storm which caused him to associate the terrorist event with the weather event.