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From Conversation - Sharing with you - How to keep kids safe when...

The devastating news of the Uvalde, Texas, elementary school shooting in May came just as many parents, like me, were attending end-of-school-year ceremonies and unpacking school backpacks for the summer. Some parents still had weeks left of sending their kids to school and immediately had to face unthinkable conversations with their children. Others delayed those conversations and difficult questions, but will inevitably have to face them as kids return to school this fall.

How much detail should you give them? How do you help kids at different ages process the news? And perhaps the most impossible question of all: How do you reassure them that they can go to school and feel safe?

Whether it be about mass shootings, war, COVID-19 or other traumatic events, kids and adolescents are increasingly bombarded with news that is difficult to process. And research shows that kids and adolescents can be affected by their news exposure for months or years after. Nicole Martins and Erica Scharrer, communications scholars from Indiana University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, respectively, who study media’s effects on children, offer evidence-based and practical advice for how and how much to talk to kids of different ages about the difficult news they are encountering.

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Amanda Mascarelli

Senior Health and Medicine Editor

With the ever-increasing media coverage of mass shootings in the U.S., even the youngest children are now repeatedly exposed to violent images on TV and online. Blend Images/Inti St Clair/Tetra Images via Getty Images

Nicole Martins, Indiana University; Erica Scharrer, UMass Amherst

The unending stream of violence on news and entertainment programming can have a negative impact on kids of all ages.

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