Be prepared to talk to youth about the news

Taking the time to have a conversation with youth about what is happening in the news will help them better understand what they are seeing and hearing.

In our fast-paced world and 24 hours of non-stop news, today’s youth are being indented by what is in the news. Youth have a much quicker and greater access to today’s news through seeing things on television, different applications on their smart phone or tablet, and just being on the Internet. This makes it almost impossible for youth not hear or see what is happening in the news. This is evident from a 2015 Pew Research study that found 73 percent of 13-17 years olds have access to a smartphones. Adults working with youth need to be aware what youth are hearing and seeing in the news.

A recent Common Sense Media article, “Explaining the News to Our Kids,” shares tips for parents to help youth understand what they are hearing and seeing from the news. However, it is important for any adult to understand the importance of helping youth understand and cope with what they hear and see in the news because parents will not always be the person around when youth start reacting. Michigan State University Extension suggests adults working with youth be prepared to help them understand what they are hearing and seeing and be there to comfort them if needed.

It is extremely important to be available for a conversation after youth have heard or seen something tragic that the news is sharing. They may have a variety of questions or just need to process what they are seeing. Take the time to listen to youth and try to respond to their questions. During this time, stay calm about what is happening and empathize with their fears and concerns. In addition, take the time to reassure the youth of their safety.

While it is important to be available for a conversation with youth about the news, it is just as important to check in with youth after tragic events have been portrayed because there will be times where youth could just internalize what they are hearing and seeing. There are youth who will absorb the news independently from adults, and checking in with them allows for adults to get a pulse on where the youth is standing on what they have seen and heard. During this check-in time, adults can help offer insight on what is happening, help the youth gain a better understanding of what is being shared and help them sort out their feelings.

For adults who are around and work with youth, take the time to be aware of what is happening in the news so you can be available for a conversation when needed and check-in with youth when tragic events are being portrayed in the news.

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