I imagine the American TV market is flooded with far more of these every year than the Norwegian one. We get our fair share though, mostly on the cable stations--Discovery, History Channel, BBC Knowledge, and the like.
My kids use these channels as bargaining tools. When I start grousing about how much TV they're watching--"ENOUGH SPONGEBOB ALREADY! TURN! IT! OFF!"--they'll come back with, "Okay, but if we turn it to Discovery, can we still watch TV? Huh? Can we? Can we?"
Grumble, grumble, grumble. "Fine! But no bullshit ghost or U.F.O. documentaries! Find something about something REAL!"
Can you see where I'm going with this?
They watched 5 minutes of "102 Minutes That Changed America" before I wondered upstairs and realized what they were looking at.
I just watched some of it on Google videos through that link, and I must say, it's pretty good. It's all primary source video and voice recordings. No editorializing. No overly dramatic music. No kooky conspiratorial angling. Just recordings of phone calls, tourist video cameras, cell phone cameras, and news feeds in real time as the events unfold. Very powerful stuff.
I made them turn it off. Of course, Emma, who always has to know whywhywhy everything why, asked, "But Mom, what is this? Why can't we watch this?"
They hadn't seen the airplanes. They saw a lot of very scared people milling about the streets and lots of smoke billowing out of the buildings, but they didn't see the airplanes. I really didn't want to explain about the airplanes. So I told them very basically that this show was about a terrible thing that happened in New York, and a lot of people died that day, and it was awful, and I just didn't think it was a good idea to get into the details of it right now because it's so scary and hard for kids to understand.
They seemed to be alright with this except Daniel, who has this thing for labels, and names, and everything in its place. He wanted to know what the buildings were called and if they were still on fire. So I had to add to my condensed history that the Twin Towers, in fact, fell down that day.
And that was it. They cleaned up their Legos, and went to bed.
But Daniel must have spent the night chewing over these details, because the first thing he asked me when he crawled into bed with me this morning was, "But Mom, how did those Twin Towers fall down?"
So I'm wondering. How much should they know? How much of the details of 9/11 are kids in America taught? Are they told about the airplanes? The hijackings? At 7 years old? At 9 years old? How much terror is too much at so young an age?