Parents should limit their children’s social media, TV use during times of crises, mental health official says

    Facebook, Twitter and the 24-hour news cycle can make a tragic story seem never ending.

    That’s why during times of crises, a local mental health official advises parents to limit their child’s access to social media and television.

    “The more you watch, the more you feel like you’re experiencing it all over again,” said Aniedi Udofa, the medical director for Capital Area Human Services.

    Udofa, along with Capital Area Human Services Executive Director Jan Kasofsky and Tonja Myles, the agency’s community outreach specialist, addressed mental health issues during times of community crisis today at the Press Club of Baton Rouge’s meeting today.

    Humans are resilient, the experts said, but self-care is crucial to helping others through times of community trauma.

    “We’ve been exposed to some really horrific things in the past two weeks,” Kasofsky said. “I think the most important message is: Let’s not walk away from this. I think all of us will find ways to cope that will be helpful and that will be positive.”

    Sunday’s shooting occurred two days after the funeral services for 37-year-old Alton Sterling, a local black man who was tackled, shot and killed by police officers outside of a North Foster Drive convenience store on July 5.

    Sterling’s death was captured on two cellphone videos that were widely shared on Twitter and Facebook. His killing sparked protests throughout the United States.

    Because of the easy access to social media, children may be keenly aware of the high-profile deaths in their community and the charged reactions that result from them.

    Udofa said it’s important for parents to sit down with their children, find out what their child knows and what the child has learned through the use of social media.

    It’s best to use simple language when talking to a child and offer comfort when needed. Parents should expect to answer follow-up questions.

    Udofa said it could be helpful for parents to explain the role of police officers and that sometimes the officers in end up in situations that are out of their control.

    “I would talk to my child about all the good things that those officers do for us and the fact that they put their lives in danger to protect people and get my child to understand that they do a very important job,” Udofa said.

    —Alexandria Burris