It’s after work and you have the t.v. on for just a few minutes while you cook dinner. Or maybe you’re trying to catch up on what’s happening in Syria, the stock exchange or even the latest happenings in Hollywood. You click the television on, go about what you’re doing and maybe catch a little here and there. You hear what’s happening, may react or not react, but go about your day BECAUSE you realize that what’s happening on television is not happening directly to you. You understand that Syria is a long way away and that people in our country don’t treat each other that way. You also realize that the bomb that went off in Egypt is something that will probably not happen on your street and the shooting in the L.A. strip mall will likely not happen in your local mall.
But your bright, intuitive child walks by and he sees something very different. He sees what’s happening on television as happening to him. I like to call this the SNOW GLOBE EFFECT and describe it as: A child’s world is like a snow globe in that whatever happens inside the snow globe happens to him. The bomb he sees on television is in his snow globe; it just as soon be happening down the street. The shooting, the fire, the tornado is also in his snow globe and is also happening to him. Directly to him.
The SNOW GLOBE EFFECT is not by choice but where kids are developmentally. They don’t have higher level thinking skills (the pre-frontal cortex and corpus callosum are not fully developed) and are concrete thinkers without the ability to think abstractly. It’s no wonder that kids hear a story on the news and worry about it for the rest of the day and when they hear a scary story about monsters at a sleepover, they are still thinking about it months later. When something scary enters their snow globe, it sticks around for a while.
That’s why it’s best to keep your kids away from adult information. This article is targeting the news but any information that is not kid-friendly, such as adult conversations about money, job stress, marital issues, conflicts with your mother-in-law, etc. should be kept away from children. You can’t guarantee that your child won’t worry but you can sure lessen his load by keeping the scary stuff out of his snow globe.
For more information about how to protect kids from adult information, discover Why Smart Kids Worry.