Unless you live under a rock, you've been exposed to some of the massive media coverage surrounding September 11th. Sometimes it seems like every day, there's some new "security alert" or discovery about the events. These stories and images can make us scared, anxious, or so preoccupied that we can't stop thinking about them.
While it's important to know what's going on in our country and the world, it's also important to take control of your media "diet."
Talk Amongst Yourselves
If you see or hear something that really scares or upsets you, here's what you can do:
- Talk to your parents or another trusted adult about it. Don't let it fester by keeping it inside. You'll be surprised at how sharing your feelings can make a difference. Sometimes the way to get through something is to talk it to death. It makes healing easier and lets you move forward.
- Make sure you know all the facts. Have discussions with adults and ask questions. There are a lot of rumors out there, so make sure you've got the right information. You could be worrying about something that isn't even true!
- Explore alternatives to talking. If discussing a topic makes you uncomfortable, use your favorite non-verbal form of expression. Write a poem, paint a picture, or write a song about what you're feeling. Perhaps you can share your creation with your family, so that they'll understand what you're going through.
- Be a teacher. Also, since you probably know a lot about these world events through school and other sources, this is a chance for you to educate your parents! Tell them what you've learned, and together compare it to what you've seen on TV.
Lose the Remote
The power to tune out the media at any time is in your own hands -- literally! Here's how to use this power:
- Create a time limit. You might want to figure out a reasonable amount of time to watch television or go on the Internet -- whether it's a half hour, an hour -- and stick to it. Talk to your parents and see what they think is best for you. When the time is up, turn it off!
- Use common sense. If the news is too upsetting, be good to yourself and change the channel or find another Web site. Better yet, choose another activity like calling a friend, going for a walk, listening to music, or reading.
- Don't go solo. Another solution is to make a rule that you won't tune in to news alone. Ask your parents to join you or call a friend so that you can watch it together. If no one is available, you may want to turn off the TV or log off of the Internet, and return later when you have company.
- There's always Plan B. Consider making a list of favorite "Anti-Media" activities for yourself, so whenever you find yourself worrying about something you saw or heard on the news, you can take it out and choose an activity. Do dance stretches. Read a book. Take a bubble bath. Play the piano. Draw. Make necklaces. If you make your list ahead of time, you'll be prepared for the next time you need it. It's much harder to worry when you're doing something you love!
In the next section, we look at how to Celebrate Diversity.