How to talk to children about the war in Ukraine? The radio magazine broadcast a debate with a psychologist iROZHLAS

Children also watch the war in Ukraine through the media and social networks. In a series of interviews, the Disman ensemble, together with experts, prepared answers to questions that children most often don’t understand in relation to the war. On Sunday from 7 p.m., the Czech scouts, in cooperation with psychologists and Radiožurnál, broadcast a debate on How to talk to children about war. It was also possible to watch it online on Radiožurnál’s Facebook channel. The notice is in the article.




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How to talk to children about war? | Source: Locika Center

In Radiožurnál’s first set of interviews, 11-year-old Johanka asks media theorist and journalist Alice Němcová Tejkalová which news sources are true and which are disinformation.

Hear where kids should look for information about the war in Ukraine

Where can we children find the best information about war?
It is very difficult for adults to know. I tell my kids and my friends’ kids that it’s important not to get too involved. Don’t watch the news all day, but always watch the most important things. And for me the most important are the websites of public media such as iROZHLAS or ČT24 or the main news programs. Whether it’s top news from Radiožurnál or events from Czech television.

But when I watch Czech television or listen to Czech radio, as we talk about Ukraine, I don’t quite understand that. It’s my fault? Or what should I do with it?
I think if you don’t like something, you should ask your parents or the teacher at school. I’m sure everyone will take the time to chat with you. It’s definitely not your fault. Finding this information is certainly important. For older children, who may already have Instagram, for example, there are interesting accounts such as the ČT:D newsletter or I’m in the Picture, where they deal with these topics a little easier than on the pages media I mentioned earlier.

And what if the answers don’t match home and school? How are we supposed to know that then?
I think that’s a big problem for kids like five or six years old, who can’t even compare on their own. But I think older kids already know who they trust more internally. Who is the one who always treated them honestly and did not thwart them in important situations. But, of course, everyone and our beloved, whom we love the most, can be wrong. Thus, it is not necessary to check this information from time to time, for example with the public media. I wouldn’t get into a big fight, because it’s not really worth it in families, but for school, for example, it makes sense to offer that different perspective. And when these people are open and sensible, they think about it.

Youtube also often deals with politics – I know Kovy, for example. How do I know who I can trust?
There are many Youtubers and every child or youngster is watching someone else. And there are a lot of Youtubers who don’t know much more than you. And then they publish information that is not verified. So I always looked at what interested me a lot, especially on media sites (ČT, ČRo and ČTK) and then I compared it with what Youtuber said. Unfortunately, not everyone knows him so well.


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And how to distinguish true information from false information? I still don’t understand why fake news is happening in the world.
Misinformation is sometimes spread because someone wants to spread it. That he will deliberately come up with a message to confuse, upset or antagonize someone. This is something we have to get used to during wars. This is not new at all, our grandparents and great-grandmothers and great-grandfathers have already experienced it in the wars that existed before. But today, unlike in the past, the collages are so perfect that we often come across them (us journalists too). They are just very believable. You can check the information, for example, through the servers mentioned several times, and I would not be so subject to what is on the private sites. Consider that hundreds of journalists work on it here at Czech Radio. This cannot happen to Youtubers with their own channel.

And how do we know that Russia is lying and not Ukraine with America?
This is a very difficult question, because in times of war very often all parties lie. They do it because they don’t want to endanger their soldiers. And you can’t just rely on government information, because it can be really misleading. That’s why there are a lot of big media (worldwide, eg BBC or Reuters) and also foreign journalists and reporters who check this for us. Finding such verified information can probably help us the most at the moment.

I have many classmates and friends from Russia, and some of them simply claim that America is responsible for the war. How to explain to them that they are wrong? Where can they have it?
Many Russians and Ukrainians live in the Czech Republic. It often happens to the children in the class now that they have someone from Ukraine and with them someone from Russia. I noticed big arguments between the children, the friendship breaks. However, it is necessary to insist on certain facts. It is something clear. When a Russian classmate tells you that Russian soldiers helped us here in 1968 because his grandmother told him, that’s just not true and you have to defend yourself.


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Should I stop befriending them?
Certainly not. The hatred often engendered by war, as we have seen in history, must not overwhelm us. We shouldn’t argue about this forever, because we’ll lose these people anyway. But insisting on our own when honoring the facts is right. Because saying that everyone has a right to interpretation and opinion is not true. Maybe I’m wearing a pink hoodie today. You know it’s pink and I know it’s pink. But there are children who grew up in families where this color is called green. I mean, with exaggeration, of course, that’s probably not the case. But that’s how it works. They just think it’s green. And convincing them it’s pink will take a lot of work.

A Russian friend of mine told me that our media could not be trusted and that she looked at foreign news where the war in Ukraine was discussed differently. Possible?
The media that deal with the war in Ukraine in Russia talk about it in a completely different way. Because Russia has now committed a very hostile and aggressive act, trying to justify its citizens. It’s like spilling a drink and then trying to say someone else spilled it. And if you look at how the British media or the American media talk about it, you will find that they talk about it like we do. But, for example, the media of countries like Russia will talk about it, as will Russian television or newspapers.

I see a lot of videos from Ukraine on the Internet, which are very drastic and my parents don’t want me to watch them. Should we children take an interest in the situation in Ukraine?
Yes, you should be interested in the situation in Ukraine, but that’s why I think you should watch the videos that are on these proven websites. Because there are videos that can’t hurt you. Or the moment there is something dramatic in this video, reporters should tag it. But these videos posted on social networks or by Youtubers can be really crazy. So I would definitely avoid those videos. I wouldn’t watch them.

Josef Kanka

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