Blog · May 04, 2020
These days, the news is all around us, served up through social media, broadcasts on television, radio or the internet, and print publications. Instant access to news means we know more about what's happening in the world around us every second of every day. It’s easy to develop a frequent habit of checking on news updates for fear of missing the latest developments. The thirst for knowledge and the habit of seeking out news again and again throughout the day can become addictive and distract us from maintaining calm and productivity.
"By rationing time spent tuning into news, either by watching TV or checking your phone for updates, you can avoid feeling overwhelmed and distracted"
When the news elicits strong feelings of stress, fear, or nervousness, it can sometimes trigger fight-or-flight reactions in our central nervous systems. The fight-or-flight response, also called hyperarousal, or the acute stress response, is a physiological reaction that occurs to help us survive acute moments of danger. However, when experienced frequently, these responses can also interfere with rational thought and can even become addictive. The human body is not designed to remain in this state for long periods of time, and staying in the fear sphere too long can be both physically and mentally exhausting.
While staying informed is necessary, temperance and balance should rule the day. By rationing time spent tuning into news, either by watching TV or checking your phone for updates, you can avoid feeling overwhelmed and distracted. It can also help you foster a sense of calm, be more productive throughout the day, and maintain a positive presence around family members.
Regulating our need to continually check for updates is also healthy for our kids. We need to model the healthy behavior we want to foster in our children, and that means being mindful of how often we tune into screens throughout the day. One tactic for reducing frequent news check-ins is to schedule certain times in the day to tune in. By deciding that you’ll only seek news updates a couple of times a day, say in the morning and in the evening, you can break the habit of checking in repeatedly with your phone throughout the day. When you are consuming new information, remember to apply your critical thinking skills to differentiate the messaging that is presented to inform from what might be intended to inflame. Consider how you are feeling when new information is being delivered. As we discussed in our last blog post, Choosing Healthy Coping Strategies, awareness of our emotional responses can help us make better choices in how we respond to stress.
Both children and adults benefit from practicing mindful media consumption. Teaching critical thinking techniques at age-appropriate levels is a core concept in the Too Good programs. Talk with your kids about the critical thinking skills you use when evaluating information. Take a moment to review some of these remote learning lessons on the topic of critical thinking. Visit us at toogoodporgrams.org to learn about how the evidence-based lessons in the Too Good programs promote concepts such as critical thinking, recognizing emotions, and making good decisions for kids from kindergarten through high school.