I start each day by watching the news to see what’s happening in the world. This morning I found myself asking why is it that news and news-related programs tend to highlight all the bad things that are happening in the world? It seems like negativity and bad news make up the majority of television news programming. Stories about goodwill, virtue and heroism are positive news, but don’t seem to be emphasized much. I’m sure there are a lot of positive stories around the world that we could be reporting on, instead of just focusing on things like war, crime, or what celebrity is going into rehab or cheating on their spouse. By now, most parents have heard about studies that discourage exposing young children to television.

Consider these findings from a study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation (for more details, see the full report):

  • For children under the age of 2: more than four in 10 (43%) of children under the age of 2 watch TV every day and nearly one in five (18%) watch videos or DVDs every day.
  • For children under the age of 6: on average, they spend about two hours a day with screen media – the same amount of time as they spend playing outside, and three times as much time as they spend reading or being read to.

Gloria DeGaetano states in her paper, All the News That’s Fit for Kids, “Messages and stories absorbed at an early age have the biggest impact on children, who often don’t understand that news programs offer a very narrow view of the world. Much of what is covered on television news involves the most negative aspects of human behavior. If programs that send skewed and harmful messages about how people behave are a child’s first cultural impressions, then the child will most likely compare all future accounts, no matter how realistic, to these inaccurate ones. Kids can also become fearful when information is presented out of context. “After the television coverage of the bombing of Baghdad a few years ago,” says Harvard University child psychologist Dr. Robert B. Brooks, “children in this country worried that their homes would be bombed in retaliation.””

It would be nice to hear more good stories on the news, showing the positive aspects of humanity instead of just focusing on the negative. People, both children and adults, need to know that good stuff that is happening, to inspire them, and give them hope.