What parents and children need to know about reading and viewing explicit and violent articles, photos and clips
Where are these media being accessed
Different types of sites and platforms
The horrifying news coming from Eretz Yisrael R”l presents a new challenge to parents and their children. Although violent and distressing articles, photos, and clips are easily found all over the Internet, for many of us, this is the first time we ourselves are actually being confronted by such media. Since these savage acts of brutality have been committed against Acheinu Bnei Yisrael, they are gaining access into our lives much more easily than other world events may have in the past.
Let us first address some of the issues that may arise from viewing these types of media, and then discuss how our children may be accessing them.
Although many people feel that seeing these pictures and videos, or even just reading about the atrocities committed, will help them feel the pain of the victims so much more and enable them to be mishtateif in their tzaar, there are a number of important points that need to be taken into consideration and shared with our children:
- Bnei Yisrael have an inborn trait of rachmanus. However, repeated exposure to cruel and barbaric acts can wear down our sense of compassion and dull our senses. Paradoxically, it can cause us to normalize such behavior and desensitize us to the pain and suffering of others.
- Additionally, exposure to these types of acts can sometimes cause children to act out in violent and aggressive ways.
- Exposure to these types of explicit media can be very traumatic, especially to a young child or teenager who isn’t used to seeing and reading about such acts, but also to adults. This can cause emotional distress and may also have long-term psychological effects.
- The vividness of the media also causes them to feel as if the world is much more unsafe than it really is, causing an unnecessary level of fear and anxiety.
The following are a number of points as to where these types of media are being accessed:
- Although generally News sites and Social Media platforms are considered more unsafe than regular texting and WhatsApp, in the context of the current conflict, media that is shared via WhatsApp and MMS may in fact be worse. This is because News sites and Social Media usually have some type of policy regarding what they allow on their platforms in regard to violence, or at least post a warning before such media is shown, cautioning that viewer discretion is advised. For media that is shared by text and WhatsApp, however, no such precautions are in place.
- Although, as noted, many News Sites and Social Media platforms do try to curb what can be shown, to some extent, there is still a huge amount of disturbing, and often extremely explicit content that is allowed on all News Sites, as well as on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Twitter etc.
- Even when the gory part of the picture is blurred out, it can still be a catalyst for most of the issues noted above.
- Regarding Frum News Sites, although they are definitely much better than the secular ones, many still show media that is not appropriate for children (or many adults). Many of these sites show disturbing footage and images, as well as upsetting articles. Additionally, many of them have blogs in which everyone has a platform to put forth their ideas and ideals.
- Most of these platforms don’t have to answer to any Rabbinic oversight or paid subscribers. What gets posted is totally at the discretion of the owners. And since the more traffic their site attracts, the more money they make, they therefore tend to post the most sensational and graphic content possible, as that is guaranteed to attract more people.
- Many children feel left out when they see all the adults around them watching and discussing the latest news. Although we may be tempted to give them a glimpse of some clips or pictures, be extremely careful about what you choose to show them, as something that adults may not find so disturbing (especially if they have seen so much that they are desensitized) may be very harmful to a child or teenager.
May we hear only besuros tovos b’karov.
From the Mishor Email – Mishor helps teenagers, parents and mechanchim navigate the challenges of technology. | Mishor’s services include: Awareness: through emails, brochures, and presentations for schools and parents. | Support and Guidance Hotline: for adults and teens | Counseling, Filtering and Ongoing Support: for teens who need individualized help. | For more information, for questions and comments, or sign up for their weekly email, contact MISHOR at (732) 894-4515 or email@example.com.