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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Videos circulating online of the horrors in Israel and Gaza are easily accessible online right now, and will likely continue to dominate media platforms as the war plays out.
It could get even worse as Hamas has threatened to record and broadcast executions of hostages brought from Israel into Gaza, as reported by Nexstar’s partner at The Hill.
As the conflict in Israel continues, Dr. Kyler Shumway, president and chief clinical officer at Deep Eddy Psychotherapy, warns that there’s a fine balance in how much media you consume: staying plugged in enough to be informed, but protecting your mental health too.
“If you notice that you’re not sleeping very well, if you are overwhelmed, distracted at work, if you’re having a hard time doing the things that you enjoy, those are all good signs that maybe you’re plugged in a little too much. And it might be time to take a break for a while,” Shumway said.
If you do need to step away, Shumway recommends asking someone you trust to keep you updated on big details or major updates for the day, but not spending as much time glued to your TV screen or phone seeking out details yourself.
Shumway also recommends parents talk to their children about what they might see online. He recommends you start by asking your children about the platforms they’re on and what their understanding is of the event.
“Age ratings in terms of TV and movies tends to be a good range. So if somebody is 13 and up, they may be more prepared for PG-13 type material versus somebody who’s a bit younger,” Shumway recommends.
He also said it’s important for parents to lead by example, showing kids how they deal with misinformation, get truthful information and use social media responsibly.
Dr. Kelly Banneyer, a child psychologist at Texas Children’s Hospital recommends starting the conversation with an open-ended question to get a read on what your child already knows, and where they’re at. She then recommends adding age-appropriate context.
Banneyer says elementary-age children and younger should have limited or no access to the content being produced of the war right now, but that high school-aged students have much more access through social media.
“If we’re thinking about high school-aged kids, they’re going to understand more about the conflict and the impact on the world and so having higher level conversations would be more appropriate,” Banneyer said.
She also recommended parents know which social media apps their children are on so they can better understand what access their children might have to graphic content.
Jackie Nirenberg, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Austin, also warns that hate speech and incidents of hate will likely rise locally and could play out online.
“I would suggest that people be extremely careful when posting things on social media,” Nirenberg said. “If they see some hateful content being posted, really vitriolic content, not to engage because there really is no winning an argument like that.”
Nirenberg said if you see something that specifically targets groups of people, for example, anti-Semitic content, that it be reported. You can find details about how to report hate speech or incidents here.