I've done a 180 on this issue. Being in the news business, I always said I want my kids well informed. I remember telling someone: "My kids will read the newspaper at home starting when they're small and do reports for me on what they learned."
That was BK (before kids). Well, have you seen what's on the front page and on TV lately? I take it back! Now I look at the news, and their innocent faces, and wonder how long I can hold off reality.
Three years ago -- during that infamous child molestation trial in California -- my then 3-year-old came home from daycare and asked: "Mommy, who's Michael Jackson?" I knew she wasn't asking because they'd been listening to "Thriller" in school. Do you go for the easy answer ("He's just an entertainer, honey") or a watered-down version of the real thing ("He's an entertainer accused of doing bad things to kids") --
inviting the inevitable question: "What KINDS of bad things, Mommy?"
Clearly there are things even little kids need to know. If they're in school, they need to know enough about staph infections to prompt good hygiene. And sadly, at very young ages they now need to be aware of molesters, what they do, and how to avoid them.
But do I really need to explain to my grade-schooler about what happens if Iran's making nukes, what's going on in Iraq (or for that matter, Washington)? A lot of it depends on their age, what type of media they're watching, and whether you're watching with them. The group "Children Now" offers some great advice. Take a moment to read it.