Foto: Shutterstock / New Africa. Bildet viser ei jente som ser trist og tankefull ut. Hun sitter i en sofa og holder en telefon i hånden.

Reducing Exposure to War Videos in Children’s Apps

It's important to safeguard children from excessive exposure to videos depicting war and disasters. Follow these valuable tips.

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In today’s digital age, children often use popular social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat to stay informed about current events. Unfortunately, when stories of war and disaster dominate the news, many people tend to share distressing videos.

While the terms of these social media platforms typically require users to be at least 13 years old, many younger children still have access to these apps.

Watching war-related videos can evoke fear and disrupt a child’s sleep patterns.

In some cases, families in Norway may have relatives residing in war-torn regions. This can make them pay increased attention to war-related content. As parents, it’s vital to carefully consider the amount of such information your children are exposed to.

Understanding the Role of Algorithms:

Social media platforms are heavily reliant on algorithms to curate content. If a child views a war-related video, the platform is likely to recommend more such content in the following days. However, parents can play a proactive role in influencing these algorithms.

  • Teach your children to guide the algorithms using options like ‘not interested,’ ‘dislike,’ or ‘no more content like this’ if available.
  • Encourage your children to interact with positive tags and content to steer algorithms in a different direction.
  • Avoid engaging with tags related to war or disasters.
  • Refrain from clicking on videos that appear disturbing.
  • Prompt your children to scroll past distressing content within the first three seconds.
  • Monitor your child’s online interactions, unfollowing or blocking users who consistently share disturbing content.
  • Encourage your children not to share or comment on gruesome videos, as this may inadvertently expose other children to similar content.
  • Familiarize yourself with the platform’s settings, such as TikTok’s ‘restricted mode,’ which helps filter out inappropriate content on a broader scale.
  • Report any content that crosses the line to the platform’s administrators.
  • Inform your child about the prevalence of fake and distressing videos on social media, motivating them to take breaks or accept your guidance when it’s time for a break.

Guidance for Parents During Times of Conflict:

  • Show interest in your child’s online activities and inquire about recent news they’ve encountered without explicitly mentioning war-related topics. Be a supportive listener and let them share.
  • Reassure your child that Norway is one of the safest countries in the world.
  • Share positive stories, such as community efforts to support those affected by conflicts, like fundraising for injured or displaced individuals.
  • Avoid having the TV continuously tuned to news about the conflict, especially before bedtime. Consider waiting until after your child’s bedtime for your own news updates.

(Translated from Norwegian by Ratan Samadder)