Mental toll of IOF violence on Gaza

How children cope with on-screen sensitive content

(Photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — Israel's war on Gaza confronts parents with a dilemma: expose children to harsh war realities or shield them from graphic social media content. Since October 7, the region has been at a standstill, inundated with Gaza-related content—photos and videos marked as sensitive by social media companies, urging cautious viewer discretion. Amidst the casualties, predominantly children, scrolling through social media becomes an exposure to the tragic aftermath, with numerous bodies reflecting the toll of the Israeli Occupation Authorities. اضافة اعلان

These images and videos leave a lasting impact on both children and adults alike. Saleem Al-Juboor, a father of three, asserts that the scenes shared on social media leave a more profound impact than those seen on television. While TV channels may curate less violent content, the accessibility of social media allows for repeated exposure to traumatic moments.

In response, Juboor opts to follow the news on TV during his children's sleep, closely monitoring the content on their tablets to safeguard them from distressing videos circulating online.

Some argue that children should be exposed to the harsh realities
On the other hand, some, like Umm Salem, argue for exposing children to the harsh realities of the Israeli occupation to raise awareness of the gravity of the Palestinian cause. However, she emphasizes the importance of limiting viewing durations to mitigate adverse effects on education, sleep, and social interactions.

Optimism for a return to normalcy post-war
Meanwhile, Saeed Ragheb urges caution against subjecting children to violent scenes, expressing optimism about a return to normalcy post-war while underscoring the potential for lasting trauma among children. He insists that the impact of such scenes transcends age, affecting anyone who witnesses the unfolding tragedy in Gaza.

The negative impact of social media on children’s mental health
Furthermore, childhood specialist Nareman Areeqat highlights the negative impact of social media on children's mental health when exposed to violence.

Parents, she stresses, play a crucial role in addressing children's concerns, encouraging them to express their feelings through activities like drawing or writing to channel emotions positively.

To shield children from violent imagery, parents are advised to monitor their devices, providing educational apps for play and learning. Areeqat underscores the importance of parents engaging in discussions, understanding children's negative feelings, and teaching emotional expression to promote positive thinking.

Psychiatric expert Dr. Ashraf Al-Salehi warns against habitual exposure to sensitive videos, citing potential disorders like obsessive-compulsive thoughts, panic attacks, isolation, increased heart rate, nightmares, sleep disturbances, violent tendencies, and personality changes.

Parents are advised to refrain from making news the central focus of family discussions, emphasizing assistance, prayers, donations, and spreading awareness of children's global rights through social media.
In the midst of adversity, the role of parents emerges as vital in guiding their children, understanding their concerns, and instilling hope amid challenging circumstances.

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