January 8, 2007

ARTICLES: Should children watch news programs?

Should children watch news programs?

By Marcus Tavares

Alone or accompanied, children watch the main Brazilian news programs. Before them, the young public has access to a variety of information, contexts and realities that are not always easy to understand. Within the past few days, the TV news dedicated to cover the violence that swept São Paulo. Scenes of murders, rebellions and panic were broadcast all the time to inform and capture the attention of the population. Certainly children were part of this audience. But do children really need to follow such news coverage? To what extent such exposure favors understanding the facts? What consequences could this generate?

The questions are not so easy to be answered. Specialists in the areas of Communication, Education and Psychology say that to forbid access is not the most recommended solution. After all, what is presented is part of the world where the children live. Denying this access would be denying the knowledge of the actual reality. To Rosália Duarte, professor of the Department of Education of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (Puc-Rio), it would be more interesting if the broadcasters could produce news programs specific for the young audience, in which the information could be broadcast with the purpose and seriousness of a news program, but without the violence component featured in the current programs.

But, between the desirable and the possible these days, what to do? In Rosália´s opinion, it would make more sense if parents could watch the news with their children. Which, in practice, often occurs. Surveys reveal that children watch, more regularly, the night news programs and in the presence of their guardians. "It is at this time that families are generally reunited. It is the time when parents are home preparing dinner and interested in knowing what happened on that day. At that moment, the television news programs are the main source of information. Establishing a mediation between what the media displays and what the child sees, understands and assimilates is, therefore, essential and recommended. In case children watch the news without the presence of the parents, I believe that they should talk to them later, ask what they watched. A survey made in Europe affirms that the mother is the main mediator between television and the child", she affirms.

FULL TEXT AT http://www.multirio.rj.gov.br/portal/riomidia/rm_materia_conteudo.asp?idioma=2&idMenu=3&v_nome_area=Mat%E9rias&label=News&v_id_conteudo=66975

Chris Schuepp
Young People's Media Network - Coordinator
Youth Media Consulting GbR
c/o ECMC (European Centre for Media Competence)
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