Yesterday in the District of Columbia (my school) and Virginia (my home), we had an earthquake, the largest quake in our area in 70 years. At school things rumbled and doors slammed, so most of the adults, who were preparing for the start of the school year, headed outside for a bit. At my house I returned to find pictures askew. A few things fell on the floor at home, but my neighbor checked on the house and picked them up before I arrived.
After a disaster like the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear catastrophe in Japan, media — both social and traditional — saturate our lives. We process the events as radios and televisions blare the news and our smartphones, laptops, and computers constantly update. Paper editions of newspapers, quaintly behind the news cycle, nevertheless provide a kind of security, allowing us to hold a finite amount of news right in our hands — amounts we can process.
By the time children are in fourth or fifth grade, the pervasive media coverage ensures that almost nothing remains hidden for long, despite adult attempts to shield their children from the most frightening images. Media literacymatters at times such as these, but conversations with children about the news can still be challenging. I address this topic in an earlier post, Talking to Children About the News. That blog piece included online resources to support family discussions.
When a disaster occurs and the news churns on about it, I am always on the lookout for the unique article or media story that allows children balance concern and anxiety with hope and resilience.