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How will the bad news cycle of recent years affect young people?

02 August 2022
Volume 3 · Issue 4


The last years have been characterised by disasters and tragic events, leading to an extremely negative news cycle. Stephanie Thornton discusses the impact this can have on children and young people's mental health and wellbeing.

The news cycle has been extraordinarily bleak for more than two years now. First, there was the pandemic, the widespread anxiety in the media of a repeat of the 1918 influenza pandemic, daily briefings on death and disaster, and report after report suggesting that the disruptions of lockdown were permanently damaging education and the future prospects of a generation. Before we were over all that came the invasion of Ukraine, threats of nuclear war, and media agitation over a return to the anxieties of the Cold War or World War III. Then came the economic crisis, the shortages, the strikes and travel disruption, the daily warnings of worse to come, and of famine for many millions. Not to be dismissed as a source of worry for the young (and the rest of us) are the news stories warning of threats to the very future of democracy – the rise of the ‘far right’, and stories of prominent Western leaders who flout the law, or in one case, is actually accused of trying to mount a coup rather than concede electoral defeat. Or the frequent school and shop shootings in the United States (US), shootings in places of worship around the world, the horrific memories of the Grenfell tower fire back in the media on the 5th anniversary of the event, in June this year. And as a constant underlying background to all this there are the progressively apocalyptic claims for the imminence of climate change disaster and mass extinctions.

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