This is a touchy subject right now because “news” is everywhere and not all of it is reliable! While we want to raise informed kids, it’s important to monitor the constant stream of information, much of it negative, that comes their way. The answer to that question: it varies widely from teen to teen. An 18-year-old may process information much differently than a 13-year-old but even kids of the same age are of varying maturity levels, comprehension, and ability to handle anxiety. Information that an adult can digest and process may feel overwhelming and confusing to a child, even a well-adjusted teenager.
I had a conversation with a college-age client last summer who was adamant that she attend virtual classes even if she was allowed back on campus. I was surprised because this is a social young woman who had previously loved school. When I asked the right questions, she told me truthfully that she wanted to go back but her parents are older and she had heard on the news that teens and young adults were more likely to be asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19. She was terrified that she’d go back to school, get it, bring it home, and harm her family. She was not willing to share those feelings with her family because everyone was already worried enough. Another client of mine recently shared with me that she has not been going outside to get exercise on her breaks from remote learning because she is afraid being abducted; she saw a news story about human trafficking and is now afraid to walk around the block in her own neighborhood. I feel certain that she has not expressed this to her parents.
With news being available 24/7, it’s important for parents to monitor their own consumption and accompanying anxiety since kids are taking their cues from them. If the news stresses you out, check only the local headlines for things that affect your family, do it only once a day, and perhaps talk about the daily events as a family. Have conversations with your child about the news in a factual manner. Ask them what they think, if they have questions, if they need clarification about anything they heard or saw. Also be sure to balance the bad news with some “feel good” stories that will reassure everyone that there is good in the world, even now. I personally love Good News Network where you can find stories about science, humanity, nature, and some downright hilarious current event stories.