I am almost 24 years old, I was 7 when the 9/11 terrorist attack happened; 11 when the London 7/7 terror attack happened and 15 when the police were on a six-day manhunt for criminal Raoul Moat in my local area. I found out all the details of these events as an adult by looking on the internet or having conversations with friends and family, I don’t believe this would be the case if I was a teenager in 2018.
Through the majority of my childhood and teens I did not have a mobile phone with constant access to the internet, I lived in a time of not being able to use the internet and the landline at the same time and most certainly didn’t read the newspaper or watch the 6pm news therefore generally plodded along through life blissfully unaware of any major incidents or at least sheltered from the details of these events. I imagine my experience is very similar to other people of my age, our parents generally had control over the information we received. Parents had an ability to choose which information I was ready to hear, understand and manage without feeling too upset or anxious.
My parents (probably rightly) chose to tell me very little about the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York, giving a seven year old any great detail would likely result in lots of worries and questions. Similarly, I knew very little about what happened in the London 7/7 terrorist attack, when I think back I just remember knowing that people in the North where I live were worried about going to London in case something bad happened. That is the extent of my memory. However, if I was an eleven year old in 2018 I would likely have had a mobile phone with constant access to the internet and social media, thus having a totally unfiltered experience of the horrors happening in the world.
In the last two years I feel like I have been bombarded with terror related news, my social media feed is completely saturated by some attack or another. This can’t even be solved by coming off social media because I will receive a breaking news alert from somewhere else. It feels like we are slowly losing an ability to filter the information we receive, and I worry that this is also the case for parents trying to protect their children/teens from the frightening details of the goings on in the world.
I have had lots of conversations recently about whether we are living in a more anxious world than previous generations lived in and I do wonder whether this constant accessibility of information is contributing towards a feeling of anxiety. We are almost permanently plugged in, getting notifications of: terror attacks, shootings, murder statistics, suicides, death, manhunts and the list goes on.
Lesson of the day: we must unplug, we can live without the endless stream of anxiety provoking information. Turn the internet off, do something nice and stress free with your day every now and again.