INDIA: TV images affect children
One psychiatrist encourages parents to talk to their children and reassure them about the recent bomb attacks
The Times of India
Saturday, November 29, 2008
By Namita Devidayal
MUMBAI --- While people have been glued to their TV sets for the past two days, no one can imagine the impact that the relentless images of burning towers and gunshots have been having on the minds of children. What the little minds do understand is that this is no 'bang bang' video game, but real life.
Across the city, children are expressing fear and anxiety in different ways, often not even realising the terror they are internalising. One 10-year-old girl, who lives in Malabar Hills, started shaking and said to her parents, "I don't want to be living in this world. I want to live in the future when all of this is over. I hope that these people will die and be reborn as mosquitoes so that they know what it feels like to be smashed to death."
Like her, many other little children want their parents when they sleep and do not want to be left alone. Another child, who is a friend of a child who was trapped in the Taj, kept imploring, "Why can't he come and stay in our house?"
The way the media have bombarded audiences with images, repeating each gunshot and explosion relentlessly, sometimes accompanied by a shrill commentary, does not help. "Little children may not understand that the gunshots are being aired repeatedly, that each shot is not a fresh one," notes child psychiatrist Pervin Dadachanji.
Dadachanji says, "As parents, we can help them by talking to them, by asking them if they are feeling stressed. Sometimes, it helps if you put the feeling into words for them. You have to be around to reassure them that this is not something that will affect them."
For instance, when he heard a loud noise two nights ago, a seven-year-old boy immediately asked, "Is that a bomb?" Schools have been shut so children are even more confused.